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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Brother Daniel's Good News Revival by Bruce Joel Brittain is such a refreshing change from the hundreds of books I read each year. Brittain’s cast of characters is colourful and different, yet completely realistic and believable. Now, put these characters into a religious revival troupe travelling from town to town - complete with a road crew, a pianist, and a dollar counter - and you come up with an entertaining plot reminiscent of a circus: there’s just so much more thumping going on behind and inside those wagons and we’re not talking only about Bible thumping! When naive, polite 19-year-old Michael Boone (no relation to Daniel) joins Brother Daniel’s Good News Revival, he’s eager to please, keen to learn, and forever in fear of doing anything that might jeopardize his first job. That includes staying on the good side of Brother Daniel’s woman, Anna, and not messing around with her daughter, Ruth. Unfortunately for Michael, both ladies have other ideas about Michael. Then there’s his road crew buddy and learned mentor, Bert, who knows everything about everything, has no use for religion and too much use for the demon drink. As for Brother Daniel himself, well, he’s a real piece of work, but I’m not going to spoil your enjoyment of this excellent book by telling you any more about him.
Suffice to say that over the course of this book, a bit like the protagonist in the movie “O Lucky Man”, Michael Boone learns about life by living it, and what an education he gets. A decade or more after Michael first meets this fascinating troupe, has graduated from college, fought in the big war, married and become a father, his past as a member of Brother Daniel’s Good News Revival catches up with him in ways in which he…and readers…never expect. But throughout it all, Michael Boone is, and remains, one very likeable and admirable fellow. While Brittain tells the story of Brother Daniel’s Good News Revival with humor and sensitivity, he also paints a vivid picture of the thinking, mores and culture of that era in US history. The book is rich with historical content but never boring; it teaches but never preaches; it makes one reflect, often with amusement but occasionally with sadness and bewilderment. If this book leaves readers wanting anything more, it’s only more books by Bruce Joel Brittain. Five stars all the way!