Author: Jennifer Castello
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Summary (from Goodreads): Hayden Bell has successfully evaded University of Nebraska at Lincoln by employing himself as a street performer in the Old Market. Kelly Erickson is watching her mother die of cancer, and Jane Harris is watching her best friend march off to Iraq. Frank Kuzchenitsh is stuck in a dead end job, Ryan Fairfield just filed for divorce, and Thomas Stall is successfully making his escape via an impromptu Colorado road trip. Through Jennifer Castello's small portraits of those who have found themselves on the threshold of change and monotony, the city of Omaha comes to life in a story of growing up, standing up, and taking chances.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
My Summary: Set in the city of Omaha, Nebraska, The Messiah of Howard Street follows Janie, Hayden, Kelly, Frank, Ryan, Andrew, Jess, John and a few others through difficult times in their lives. Told in a collection of short-story-like chapters, we see situations from multiple character's points of view and get to understand where they are in their lives and how exactly they got there.
My Thoughts: An amazing read! I was actually surprised that I liked it so much, considering it was only 200 pages long, but it definitely made up for it's short length with the substance and quality of the storytelling. Jennifer Castello's writing was wonderful - full of imagery and allusions, making the story come alive. The dialogue between the characters always felt so natural, and it was really easy to visualize and identify with them because they were so believable.
What I really liked was that the author was able to tackle so many issues effectively - you saw Andrew's struggle with hiding who he really was in such a small town (where his brother was a minister), Kelly's denial of her mother's illness and rejection of her father's sister as a substitute, Janie's inability to let go of her only true friend, Jessie's resentment of her eccentric brother... it was all there, yet the novel never felt too over-crowded with information. Each issue was tackled subtly, and I found it really reflected the ability people have to move on, grow up, and let go.
And ultimately, it shows that we are all connected somehow - be it through the people we love or the place we grew up - and we hold those things in our hearts no matter where we go.
Final Thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this one, and I know if you're a fan of realistic contemporary fiction, you'll love it as well. Check it out! It's a short read, and there are male and female points of view ranging from Jacky (age 10) to Ryan (age 40).
An extremely refreshing read! I'm so thankful for the opportunity!