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When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

When Crickets Cry

by Charles Martin

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4712221,964 (4.03)15



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I like this book of love, life, mistakes and a big dose of God. I didn't realize it was Christian fiction until I got to the library and found it under "I" for inspirational. It was not down-your-throat, but the theme of Christianity was unmistakable. While the plot was predictable, the characters were well-developed and the writing drew me in. By the end, there were tears in my eyes, and an honest surprise at the end. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
This was a true page turner. I LOVED this book. It is about relationships and the trust in God of a little girl. I had a hard time putting this book down. I am ready to go out and get another book by Charles Martin. I would recommend this book to everyone! ( )
  ChildofGod | Dec 11, 2015 |
In order for me to review this book fairly I first need address the elephant in the room, namely religion. The author is without question a deeply committed Christian and his beliefs are evident in almost every paragraph in his book. Having grown up in a church-going family I have no problem with Christianity. If Mr. Martin is secure in his beliefs and confident of what lies in store beyond the grave, more power to him.

The book he has written is what many call Christian fiction. I choose to call it religious fantasy. I use the word fantasy with no derogatory connotations intended. The author has written a story of the world as he wants it to be; a world without villains; a world where good people always do and say the right thing and bad people sooner or later come around and see the error of their ways. In my experience, such a world can only be found if you turn right at Hogwarts and head straight on till morning. In other words, it’s an imaginary world. If his purpose in writing it is to proselytize, then he really needs to tell a story that is set in a world the reader will accept as real.

The plot is about as transparent as a plot can be. Two people with broken hearts, one physically and the other spiritually will, by the grace of god, heal each other. I am not revealing any spoilers that any reader wouldn’t have already figured out had they read the first chapter. The characters are nice, but so incredibly sweet that it’s a wonder they don’t all have diabetes. I also have a problem with the idea that a cardio-thoracic surgeon would believe that the heart is the physical center of our emotions. I know that this idea plays into the theme mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph but it also adds to the sense of unreality and makes it difficult to take the story seriously.

I am not saying the author is a bad writer. He’s actually pretty good at stringing words together. When he talks about rowing, I’m reminded of some of the prose from Norman MacLean’s ‘A River Runs Through it’. His description of his wife’s death and his subsequent grieving are really quite moving. In addition, his description of the medical procedures used by cardio-thoracic surgeons in heart transplantation procedures is quite accurate.

Bottom line: I read this book as part of a group read even though it is not the type of book that I would choose for myself. If you are someone who does enjoy Christian fiction then feel free to add two stars to my review to balance out my review. I believe the author can write but that he made his job far more difficult by the genre that he chose. As with most fantasies, it is difficult to drum up suspense when the reader knows that the preordained ending can be changed in an instant with the judicious use of magic and/or miracles.

This review is based on an unabridged audio recording read by Adam Verner. He did an excellent job of narrating the story although somebody needs to tell him that Robinson Crusoe’s last name is not pronounced ’KUH-roo-sew’ .

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements :
• 5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
• 4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
• 3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered good or memorable.
• 2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
• 1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
( )
  Unkletom | Jul 10, 2015 |
I can't explain why I didn't like this book. It just didn't hold my interest. The author did not seem to write in a linear way and the story suffers for it.
  jimocracy | Apr 18, 2015 |
The thing about literary fiction, Christian or otherwise, is you have to love the language. To be done right, an author needs to value things like sentence structure, placement of words, and economy of prose. In WHEN CRICKETS CRY, Charles Martin gets two out of three right. His sentence structure is perfect. He manages to build scenes so startlingly real that you can remember them as if they're your own memories. His word placement is brilliant. You can tell he's honed this story down to the most beautiful couplings of words that then copulate and birth vivid visuals. But he's far from sparse. I'm a firm believer that the fewer words used to describe something the better the end result. Especially in literary fiction. Now, this might seem the exact opposite of what most people think of when considering literary fiction (most believing that the genre, by definition, is verbose) but I disagree. I think wordy authors only prove their lack of skill. If it takes you four sentences to describe someone throwing a door open, you've failed at your task. Here, and only here, does Martin fail. Charles Martin likes listing stuff. He wants you to know every single detail down to the brand of every appliance/tool/toiletry used by his characters. Although, sometimes, the brand is all he tells you and you have to guess at what the fuck he's talking about (yes, even though this is a review of Christian fiction, I still dropped the f-bomb, because Hey-Zeus died for my right to be offensive!). The book is bogged down by paragraphs that resemble brick walls slathered with text which have no purpose other than reciting the Sears catalog's chapter on boat-building hardware, or the most boring bits of the New England Journal of Medicine. The author didn't bother with any flair or fireworks during these sections, which led me to believe he might have been copying directly from GRAY'S ANATOMY or BLACK & DECKER DO DALLAS. The prose farted along or was completely none-existent during every list, was basically stripped down to the most commonplace verbiage. Boo! Hiss! *tosses tomatoes at author* This is only so glaringly obvious because the rest of the book is gorgeous. Seriously, I wanted to have this book's babies.

What Martin does best is scene building. He stacks the beginning of every chapter with enough detail so that the hops back and forth in time are not jarring or confusing. Then he lets his characters exist in that space. The dialogue is some of the best I've ever read. These people talk like real people. They react like real people. They love and hurt and breathe and walk like real people. If it wasn't for that, I probably would have deleted this book from my Kindle. Which brings me to...

The fact that I'm an atheist. I'm not even agnostic. I firmly and unflinchingly believe that there is no creator, no invisible man in the sky who grants wishes, and sends people to a lake of fire for not listening to him like some amateur parental figure. Honestly, to me, God and Santa are made of the same thing: fairy dust and children's wishes. That alone should speak volumes as to the quality of this book. Charles Martin makes it very clear, from the first page on, that this book is about the power of God and blah, blah, blah, other religious stuff and things. But, even though I believe in Martin's god as much as I believe in Tolkien's hobbits, I enjoyed this book for the journey, much like I did while reading THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Martin didn't make my belief a necessity, and for that, I applaud him.


The ending was... meh. This is personal preference over something that the author did wrong. I do believe that, had Annie died and Reese been able to get back on the horse, so to speak, even though he couldn't save her, the story would have benefited far more. If anything would have proven the strength of the author's faith, that would have. In my eyes, having him save Annie was far too convenient and easy an ending. This is why I don't like happy endings. There's no risk involved, and, for the most part, everyone expects them. In the end, Reese seemed weak because he had to save Annie to redeem himself instead of focusing on his faith to bounce back.


In summation, this book didn't convert me to Christianity, nor did it try, and I commend Martin for that. He celebrated his faith without being preachy. The author can get long winded where product listings are concerned, but this book is mostly smexy (smart and sexy) prose that makes one want to lick the pages. I kid, I kid... but, seriously, schnozzberries. If you can stomach religiously devout characters and happy endings, read this book for the journey, not the destination. ( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
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It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car. But the little girl's pretty yellow dress can't quite hide the ugly scar on her chest. The stranger understands more about it than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives. Before it's over, they'll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry--and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.… (more)

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