The year is 1973; seventeen-year-old Earl Boudreaux, and his family, formerly from Louisiana, moved, for reasons unknown to him, to Stovall, Texas, where he lives with his twin older brothers, Cary and Larry, a phone-addicted mother—who pays little to no attention to her growing boys as she jaws the ears off of her sisters via Ma Bell what seems like 24/7 (an area Earl reflects on frequently throughout the narrative)—and a father who is vaguely around.
Earl spends his life and time as a loner, preferring to listen to music on the radio his father gave him—he has a penchant for pedal steel and quoting songs lyrics—would rather read a book in the woods instead of socializing that is until he meets Tina.
When Tina talks Earl into driving her to Austin to see her mother, Earl’s world turns completely upside when the two get separated, and Tina goes missing; the police find blood in the trunk of his car, and Earl is sentenced to a crime he didn’t commit.
The novel’s second half jumps forty-four years when Earl is released from prison and must learn to navigate this new world he’s been thrust into, concluding with an ending I didn’t see coming.
I have to admit; I had a Pollyanna mentality regarding how the storyline would play out, but, as in real life, that isn’t always the case, making a character I had no trouble empathizing with…Uhhhhh, let’s just say—to a point.
Thank you, NetGalley and Algonquin Books (Workman Publishing), for providing me with an eBook and a paperback ARC of I AM THE LIGHT OF THIS WORLD at the request of an honest review.
‘MICHAEL PARKER is the author of five novels – Hello Down There, Towns Without Rivers, Virginia Lovers, If You Want Me To Stay, The Watery Part of the World and two collections of stories, The Geographical Cure and Don’t Make Me Stop Now. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in various journals, including Five Points, the Georgia Review, The Idaho Review, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Shenandoah, The Black Warrior Review, Trail Runner, and Runner’s World. He has received fellowships in fiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Hobson Award for Arts and Letters and the North Carolina Award for Literature. His work has been anthologized in the Pushcart, New Stories from the South and O. Henry Prize Stories anthologies. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, he is a Professor in the MFA Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.’
Visit his website at ~Michael Parker~