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When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

When Crickets Cry

by Charles Martin

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4081826,080 (4.04)14



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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 |
"Another powerful story you cannot put down. (loved the Atlanta/Lake Burton setting), since lived in Vinings, spending weekends at Lake Lanier...and holidays at Lake Burton! Have read all his books and looking forward to his new release-Unwritten. You will want his the entire collection of his work to pass along to your children!" Charles is one of my favorite authors and everything he writes is a winner!" ( )
  JudithDCollins | Nov 27, 2014 |
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin; (5*)

I love inspirational books but I do not being preached at. When I began this book I expected it to be a good story but I got much more than I bargained for.

This book is one of the finer pieces of fiction I have read this year. It was so compellingly and beautifully written that I found it difficult to put down. This one will tug at your heart strings and make you look a little deeper into yourself; look at your life a bit differently. Perhaps make you count your blessings a bit more. I know I have.

The story is about Reese, a man with trying to get away from his past. And it is about a little girl who needs a new heart. Reece meets her as she is selling lemonade at a street stand to earn money to help pay for her new heart. The people of the community know her and her story and are good to come and buy her lemonade. They become friends. It starts out so innocent and sweetly that you are taken for a ride along through this southern community and and before you realize it you are so deep into the story that you want to remain immersed in it.

Reese lost his wife tragically and hasn't been able to find his way back to life's mainstream. His budding relationship with this little girl helps him to find his way out of the darkness in which he has been living and reminds him that life does continue on ever so sweetly and tartly just like a lemonade.

When Crickets Cry is a beautiful testimony to one man's return to the faith that things can again be good and beautiful. I am happy to have found another author to read and recommend. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Jul 26, 2014 |
I highly recommend this 5-star read of a book! It's a love story. No, I don't mean of the romance genre, though there's romance in it. It's a LOVE story -- with a lot of heart, literally, and on many other subtler but profound levels. It's a book, that in one story, paints a picture using the palette of the human condition -- of our ability to love, to alienate, to forgive, to punish (ourselves or others), to hope, to be frustrated, to have closure, and to begin anew. It's a story that will move you to tears or make you choke up, because something in you *will* resonate with the story, associating with one or more of the characters in the book. If you feel nothing (I don't mean that you share the same sentiments as I do for the story), if this story does not touch you in some way, read it again, for you really need a change of heart. ( )
  MomsterBookworm | Jul 14, 2014 |
Good story, a bit religious but heartwarming story. ( )
  NHNick | Feb 8, 2014 |
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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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