THE CALLING by Cathryn Clinton


Age Range: 9 - 12
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A Southern tale of faith and doubt. In a matter of months, 12-year-old Esta Lea receives a calling to preach and then is anointed with a healing gift. In the same moment that Esta Lea becomes a healer, her rapscallion uncle, Peter Earl, is saved, and in what seems like no time at all, Peter Earl is taking Esta Lea and her angel-voiced sister, Sarah Louise, on a revival tour through nearby communities. This naturally leads to several comic situations in churches with names like Lukewarm No More, as well as Esta Lea’s growing conviction that Peter Earl is not so much saved as he is personally interested in the offerings generated at the revival meetings. While Esta Lea’s faith in her own messages from God is unassailable, she does wonder why He has chosen such an imperfect vessel, but as she tells her friend Sky, “God can use a person who ain’t perfect. God told me that if He could use a donkey, He could use me.” The revival tour begins to take over the narrative, to the point that subplots are abandoned: Sky’s own faith in the face of her father’s brutality is mentioned as an aside and the ambitious, outwardly-yearning Sarah Louise’s elopement with a college boy is practically parenthetical. Newcomer Clinton has a good ear for language, but this offering needs some work. For a more cohesive and well-developed exploration of faith in the South, go back to Han Nolan’s Send Me Down a Miracle (1996). (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1387-8
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2001


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