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When Crickets Cry

by Charles Martin

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin


When Crickets Cry

  • Published by West Bow Press

    When Crickets Cry is a book about the heart. It's a book about that funky-looking muscle in our chests that pumps the blood throughout our bodies. It's a book about that ephemeral thing we call the heart when we speak about love and passion. It's a book about the place where the two—that muscle and other thing—intersect.

    It's also one of the best books I've been asked to review, and certainly the best one this year!

    The Story

    Reese Mitch is a guy who works on boats on a lake in Georgia. Expensive boats owned by rich people who can afford to pay someone else lots of money to refurbish what would probably look to most of us like an old tub. With his blind brother-in-law Charlie as his partner, Reese's skills are in high demand.

    There's more to Reese than meets the eye, though. For one thing, he used to be married. And he used to be a phenomenal heart surgeon. But no one in this little corner of Georgia knows that (except Charlie, and he's willing to keep quiet). To them, Reese is just that strange, vagrant-looking guy … until one day when he saves the life of Annie, a seven year old little girl who needs a heart transplant and is everyone's favorite lemonade saleswoman.

    With flashbacks and details (about heart surgery, rowing, and boat repair), When Crickets Cry tells a story—the story—of the human heart and it's enormous capacity and resilience.

    The Writing

    The story starts slow, but still drew me along, rather like a slow fishing boat trying to pull a skier aloft. But that's just part of the overall motif. Like a diseased heart (and I mean that in the best possible way), this book starts slow, then builds to a fevered pitch as the heart beats harder and harder, faster and faster.

    Southern writing, for whatever reason, generally involves a slower pace—if not to the writing, to the story telling. Like the southern guy at the campfire who can enthrall an audience for hours with a good story, Martin draws the reader in and, rather than pulling him slowly along behind the boat, eventually puts him in the seat right beside him, finally pushing the reader almost ahead of the writing.

    My only quibble with the writing--and believe me it is extremely minor--is that on a few occasions Martin's descriptions (of heart surgery theory, of competition rowing and of boat repair) go in for more detail than I, personally needed. They don't really distract from the book, but for this reader they could have been whittled down (or even excised) and the book would not have lost anything.

    The Spiritual Content

    The main characters in this book all have an unwavering faith in God and a wonder for his works that fuels them even when it would seem reasonable to give up. They all seem to have a better than average grasp of scripture (and Shakespeare and a few other quotable people). As a Christian, then, I read this story and see in it a parable for how God works on people's hearts (physically and spiritually). It should be noted, however—and this is not criticism—that if a person is reading this book in hopes of finding God's love presented by a "pastor" or a church, she won't find it. All the Christians in the book carry out their ministry and the closest thing to a church in the story is a road-house (that's not a slam, either, you have to read the book to understand).

    Give your heart a work-out and read When Crickets Cry.




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