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Days of Little Texas by R.A. Nelson
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Days of Little Texas (2009)

by R.A. Nelson

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This is one of those times I wish GoodReads would allow us to award half stars, because this is better than a ***.

R.A. Nelson got my attention a couple years ago with Breathe My Name, so I was anxious to start this one when the ARC made it to the store.

Little Texas is a preaching phenom who travels from revival to revival with an unlikely group of handlers. At one of these stops he heals a young woman who continues to "haunt" him throughout the remainder of the story.

My radar for anti-religious plotlines went up, but I needn't have worried. Nelson respects Little Texas and his genuine faith and abilities while being unafraid to introduce healthy cynicism when the adults handling his career come into play.

The central question with which Little Texas has to wrestle is this: What if everything we believed was only a littleright? Does that mean we are wrong, or does it simply mean we are meant to open our minds and hearts wider?

The only thing that kept this from being a **** was a weak denouement, but I can well imagine that the readers for whom the book is intended will not find it as unsatisfying as did I.


( )
  BluesGal79 | Mar 31, 2013 |
Ronald Earl became a child wonder for performing a healing when very young. Now 16, and known as Little Texas of the Church of the Hand, he travels the south, leading tent revivals. But he is starting to have some doubts, and when a girl in a blue dress keeps appearing to him, he realizes he is being haunted. ( )
  pmlyayakkers | Nov 16, 2009 |
eviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

Little Texas is a sixteen-year-old evangelist preacher. Early on, readers learn his back story. Born Ronald Earl, he started life living in a trailer. His father raised pot underneath their home, but when his secret crop was discovered, he was carted off to prison. That left Ronald Earl with his mother, who "entertained" gentlemen callers until one night when she had the misfortune of visiting the local meth lab on the night it exploded and burned to the ground.

Ronald Earl then found himself traveling with Miss Wanda Joy, an elderly preacher known as Sugar Tom, and an odd fellow named Certain Certain. Together they made an unusual, but devoted family.

Ronald Earl became known as Little Texas when it was discovered that he had healing powers and the ability to preach to and captivate an audience. The group traveled from town to town for years providing revival-type church meetings and taking in enough of a "collection" each time to sustain their operation. But as time passed, Little Texas was becoming less comfortable with his role as child preacher and, at sixteen, he was struggling with his desire to change course.

Things changed in a big way after one revival meeting when Little Texas was asked to heal a pretty young girl. Her parents stated that she suddenly became ill while they were traveling, and they put all their hope for her recovery in the powerful hands of Little Texas. He handled the situation just like his other miraculous healings and left behind what he thought was a grateful family.

It wasn't long after his contact with the young girl that Little Texas began experiencing some unsettling visions. A young girl calling herself Lucy, dressed in the same blue dress, began appearing before Little Texas. His religious training and beliefs kept him from acknowledging her at first, but the appearances increased in frequency and contact with her seemed so real.

Then Miss Wanda Joy gets the idea to hold a revival at a historical plantation known for the mysterious disappearance of another revival preacher. Lucy's visitations take on a different tone. When she appears to Little Texas, she warns him of danger and suggests that with her help, the two of them can battle the evil that haunts the old plantation site.

DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS is a different mix of plot twists and turns. Ronald Earl is a teen struggling with the traditional coming-of-age dilemma, but the religious angle adds an interesting element. Grateful for the support he has been given from his three family friends, he desperately wants to make them proud of him, yet he holds the nagging belief that what he is doing may not be representing the truth. He also clings to his religious upbringing as he battles the conflicting notion of ghosts/spirits/demons or whatever this Lucy represents.

Author R. A. Nelson will surprise readers expecting a revival, holy-roller experience as he deftly incorporates an intriguing mystery with the history of the plantation, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS would be an interesting addition to a high school collection. ( )
1 vote | GeniusJen | Oct 10, 2009 |
Summary from publisher: Welcome, all ye faithful—and otherwise—to a ghost story, a romance, and a reckoning unlike anything you’ve read before. Acclaimed YA author R. A. Nelson delivers a tantalizing tale set in the environs of the evangelical revival circuit and centered around Ronald Earl, who at ten became the electrifying “boy wonder” preacher known as Little Texas. Now sixteen, though the faithful still come and roar with praise and devotion, Ronald Earl is beginning to have doubts that he is worthy of and can continue his calling. Doubts that only intensify when his faith and life are tested by a mysterious girl who he was supposed to have healed, but who is now showing up at the fringe of every stop on the circuit. Is she merely devoted, or is she haunting him?

Beautifully written and seriously creepy, this was one ghost story that I had a hard time putting down. I'm not a huge fan of ghost stories, but the beginning was so atmospheric that it really drew me in. The characters didn't feel fully developed to me, but the unique setting and plot almost made up for that. Recommended to fans of horror and ghost stories (like, maybe, Bliss by Lauren Myracle).

Full review on my blog: http://abbylibrarian.blogspot.com/2009/07/book-review-days-of-little-texas.html ( )
  abbylibrarian | Jul 13, 2009 |
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At ten years old, he became the boy-wonder preacher known to the adoring faithful as Little Texas. Now sixteen, Ronald Earl lives among other True Believers traveling the evangelical revival circuit. He still feels the power of the Holy Spirit truly and deeply and believes with all his heart in his power to save and to heal. But lately there is also this accompanying sliver, this little sliver...of doubt. So when a girl in a blue dress is brought to him, nearly lifeless, Ronald Earl calls upon his faith, and as he strains and he prays, a jolt shoots through him into the girl. And as she smiles up at him, it seems that Little Texas has performed yet another miraculous healing. But Ronald Earl, he knows something is not right. This one is different. Another revival in another small town, and there's that same girl in that same blue dress. A day later, on the fringe of believers, a flash of blue. Is she just another one of the grateful and devoted? Or is she something else? And is she, in fact, not following but haunting him? Welcome to the pages of a ghost story, a romance, a coming-of-age, and an exploration of faith. Welcome, all ye faithful, and otherwise, to Days of Little Texas. (ARC)
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Sixteen-year-old Ronald Earl King, who has been a charismatic evangelist since he was ten years old, is about to preach at a huge revival meeting on the grounds of an old plantation, where, with confusing help from the ghost of a girl he could not heal, he becomes engaged in an epic battle between good and evil.… (more)

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