Coaltown Jesus


"Never  been a sinner, I've never sinned
I've  got a friend in Jesus
So  you know that when I die
He's  gonna set me up with the Spirit in the sky"
--  Norman Greenbaum (1969)
"'So  Are You Going to Fix My Mom?'
'I'm  sure going to try,' said Jesus.
"'Pretty  soon.  Just let me get my
bearings.   Carry on.  Don't pay any
attention  to me.  Act like I'm not here.'
"Walker  tried.  He sat at the table and ate
the  last of his breakfast.  He read the back
of  the cereal box, or pretended to.  Jesus
walked  around the room, picking things
up.   Staring at them.  Smelling them.
"When  Walker finished eating, he took
his  bowl and spoon to the sink.
"He  washed and dried them both.  Sun
shot  through the window at just the right
angle  and illuminated everything -- his red
bowl,  the rooster saltshaker, the orange box of cereal.
"He  wondered if Jesus would still be
there  when he turned around.
"'Wheaties?'  said Jesus.
"'Breakfast  of champions,' Walker explained.
'Do  you want some?'
"'Wouldn't  say no.'
"'You  have to wash up afterward.
Mom  has enough to do.'
"Walker  filled a bowl with Wheaties.
Jesus  picked up a spoon."
Two  months ago, the same night fourteen year-old Walker angrily confronted
him on  his behavior, Walker's big brother Noah succumbed to his drug
addiction.   Their mother, who runs a nursing home here in Coaltown,  Illinois
called Bissell House, has not yet begun to recover from  losing her older
Walker  asks for help, and Jesus shows up.
Jesus,  who can only be seen by Walker and a few others (like a baby we
briefly  encounter), is very cool.  Piece after piece in this really excellent
verse  novel is frequently funny and constantly thought-provoking.
And  Jesus wears size 11 red Chucks just like I do!
"'You  missed me.  Admit it.'
"'I  just wondered where you were.'
"'Same  thing.  Jesus pointed to the snack machine.
'How  do you work this contraption?  I'm buying.'
"'Mom  doesn't want me to eat too much of that stuff.'
"'Let  me ask my mom.  'Hail, Holy Queen, Mother
of  Mercy, Our Life, Our Sweetness, and Our Hope.
Can  I have a candy bar?'
"Jesus  waited a bit.  'She said fine, but brush
afterward.   Loan me seventy-five cents.
I  don't have any pockets in this robe.'"
Allusions  to Biblical passages mix with philosophical questions about why
things  happen and fold really nicely into this quick but really memorable
story of a family in desperate need of healing.
"ALA  spies tell me about Cynthia Rylant's 'God Got a Dog.'  Her 'God went
to  Beauty School' made me want to write 'Coaltown Jesus.'"
--  Ron Koertge tweet, 6/30/13
COALTOWN  JESUS is actually much less folksy and more hip in a YA way than
is  Cynthia Rylant's GOD WENT TO BEAUTY SCHOOL (which I liked a lot).  There
is  no language or sex here – young-end YA -- so you can put it in a middle
school  and not worry about it.
Except,  of course, that somewhere in America there will be one of those
parent groups --  like the one I recently read about that advocated banning
CHARLOTTE'S WEB  because a book featuring two talking animals must be the work
of the devil --  that will have a field day with the irreverence of this
All  I can say is God bless them.

128 pages  Ages 12 and up  978-0763662288

Recommended by:  Richie  Partington, MLIS. Librarian, California USA

Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com_ (
[email protected]

User reviews

Have you read this book? We'd love to hear what you think. Click the button below to write your own review!
Already have an account? or Create an account