Review by Booklist Review
In a small Texas town, intersecting lives are played out on a bleak but moving canvas of human experience, catching the characters' most private moments in lightning flashes of revelation.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In the ordinary time of her title--in those parts of the liturgical year between the holy seasons--Mojtabai ( Blessed Assurance ) explores the ways faith is tried and practiced by residents of the Texas town of Durance, where a drifter named Val, his memory lost in a car accident, steps off a bus. Val takes a job in Henrietta's Three Square Meals restaurant, across the street from the cemetery. Henrietta, who attends the Rooftree Pentecostal Church, is a widow with a gutsy optimism and a firm, every-day kind of faith. Father Gilvary, whose parishioners at St. Jude's are old and dying, eats breakfast at Henrietta's every morning after Mass. He believes St. Jude's will become a mission when he retires, which may be soon: he has just learned he is going blind. A young man named Cleat, a foundling who has never been quite ``right,'' develops a growing attachment to Val. The secretive Val moves through the dry summer as a kind of absence to whom Henrietta, Fr. Gilvary and Cleat respond, as Mojtabai's simple and precise prose bares the subtle daily adjustments that occur in their inner and public lives. Not much goes on in her story, but life is rendered truthfully and with grace. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
``Ordinary time,'' notes Father Gilvary, is ``the longest, and hardest, season of the liturgical year.'' Especially in dusty Durance, Texas: ``buried in the Dust Bowl, resurrected in the oil boom, now, fallen again on hard times.'' Here, Father Gilvary is experiencing a crisis of faith, going blind figuratively as well as literally. Sprightly Henrietta, who runs the Three Square Meals restaurant, is a fervent Pentecostal who can't quite commit. And Cleat, the town waif whose parentage is unknown, just drifts. Into their lives comes Val, a stranger on the run. Though the town had been waiting for something to happen, the violent outcome of Cleat's worship of Val wasn't it. The novel's unhurried pace and quiet revelations can at times make it seem ordinary, too; indeed, the stripped-down prose gives the characters little depth. Still, this is a well-wrought novel whose power grows and whose message--what we love can destroy us--is clearly rendered.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A slice-of-life novel, set in the Bible belt of Texas during hard times, that's a cross between Sherwood Anderson and Flannery O'Connor: Mojtabai (Autumn, A Stopping Place, etc.) successfully evokes the daily rhythms of life in a small desperate town--and the confused groping after faith in bad times. Ordinary time is that period when ""the mystery of Christ in all its fullness is celebrated."" The story centers on Henrietta, owner of Henrietta's Cemetery-Restaurant, town meeting-place; Father Gilvary, an old priest going blind; and Val, a drifter who gets off his bus in Durance on a whim. Henrietta is ""always waiting,"" but at least she ""knows she is saved, that's the main thing."" She's been told by a revival sister that she has ""the gift of discernment,"" and she hires Val, who becomes the catalyst of the plot (such as it is). Mostly, Mojtabai provides lots of day-to-day detail and Americana (Henrietta knows ""how to train fleas""). Notable is the revival meeting of Brother Shad at the Pentecostal Church: ""Anybody else that wants God?"" The priest, full of doubts, makes his rounds, troubled by defections from his church, and Henrietta thinks a good deal about which church by attend. Meanwhile, Val, a murky presence even to himself, has had selective amnesia, but finally remembers a courtroom and a violent threat to his wife. Then on All Souls' Day, Henrietta finds Cleat, a troubled boy who has taken to Val, in a trash can, where he's still alive but bloodied. Val, the eternal stranger, has hitchhiked off for New Mexico and Los Angeles, while Henrietta, musing again at her restaurant, ""is done waiting,"" for ""she's had her share of things."" Mojtabai manages to write about ordinary things without being ordinary, and to sketch out these earthy trials without forcing their religious issues. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.