Thursday, May 19, 2016

East Jesus ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour*, Review, & Giveaway!

Chris Manno
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Date of Publication: March 8, 2016
Number of Pages: 314
Scroll down for Giveaway!

In the summer of 1969, a small town in west Texas prepares to send one of their finest young men off to fight a faraway, controversial war. A parallel battle of domestic violence erupts at home as a younger generation struggles to reconcile older notions of right and wrong and even fractured family ties with the inevitable price that the fighting demands. 

Much like today's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Vietnam war is little understood by those left behind, but the lessons of strength, commitment and duty are timeless, then and now. East Jesus, the story of that national struggle today as well as back in 1969, is a plangent, soulful journey lived through the eyes of a wide-ranging, colorful array of characters, with a conclusion readers will never forget.
There's more.  "East Jesus," said one editor, "is a message of hope for our children." Too often, teenagers who've survived a young lifetime of domestic violence believe "this is the hell I was born into, this is the hell I must accept for life." East Jesus turns that notion on its ear: though there's a price to pay, there's a better way that rises above the violence.

The novel is peopled by strong characters, particularly women, in a salt-of-the-earth, small town, west Texas community. The price of a far away, unpopular war always comes due in small town America, then (set in 1969) as well as now (Iraq and Afghanistan). But the lesson of hope, sacrifice and redemption is timeless.

To read East Jesus is to live that story, to transcend the fighting at home and abroad, and to embrace the hope and faith in what's right above all else.

Experience East Jesus, live the story--you'll never forget it.

THAT ENDING! WHOA! Yes, I know it's backwards to start with the end, but from the start to finish of East Jesus, this looming doom, as slow moving as the violent storms brewing outside of Conroy, Texas, has been building. There is an ugly certainty that the aftermath will leave many affected, but the questions are who and how badly? Travis is simmering, dangerously close to boiling over -- readers know it's coming -- but again, the question is how badly? And then the answers come in that ending.  WOW.

Author Chris Manno immerses readers into not just the setting of the west Texas town, but the mood of the people and the tension of the times.  As the author says, East Texas is a book more to be lived than read.  There is so much going on in this book, but at its core is seventeen-year-old Travis Carlisle.  His yearning for escape, for normalcy is palpable. On the surface, Travis is a typical teen boy with teen boy thoughts and fantasies. Travis, however, has much more weight on his young shoulders than any child should. He is violently abused by his father, Jesse; his mother escapes her abuse and Travis's by staying drunk; and Bean, Travis's baby sister, mutely observes it all. 

It will be hard for readers to accept the mindset of the community of Conroy.  Everyone knows about Jesse's abuse, but they mostly turn-away from it, making only small gestures to acknowledge and support the victims but never doing anything to prevent it. In part, their inactivity is the trap of a small town stuck with poor authority figures, but also it was just the era.  

Manno's characters are brilliantly written and developed and feel completely believable.  As each character marches towards what seems a clear but often unsettling destiny, readers will be surprised, angered, and even strangely relieved by the resolutions to the numerous story lines.  All of these people and their stories -- their fates -- will stay with the readers long after finishing the book. 

Chris Manno matriculated from Springfield, Virginia and graduated from VMI in 1977 with a degree in English. He was commissioned in the Air Force and after completing flight training, spent seven years as a squadron pilot in the Pacific at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He was hired by American Airlines as a pilot in 1985 and was promoted to captain in 1991. He flies today as a Boeing 737 captain on routes all over North America and the Caribbean. He earned a doctorate in residence at Texas Christian University and currently teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University in addition to flying a full schedule at American Airlines. He lives in Fort Worth.

Each winner gets an author signed copy of East Jesus PLUS 
a free download of Chris's cartoon book #RudeLateNightCartoons 
  May 10 - May 19, 2016
5/10   Texas Book Lover  – Guest Post #1

5/11   Missus Gonzo  – Review
5/12   Country Girl Bookaholic  – Promo
5/13   Forgotten Winds  -- Review
5/14   StoreyBook Reviews     – Excerpt      
5/15   A Novel Reality            – Author Interview #1     
5/16   Book Chase      – Review      
5/17   All for the Love of the Word     – Guest Post #2     
5/18   My Book Fix Blog – Author Interview #2                                      
5/19   Hall Ways BlogReview


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