The Healing of Howard Brown by Jeb Stewart Harrison
Publisher: Independent Self Publishing
Publication Date: August 16, 2016
Format: Paperback - 336 pages
Kindle - 1054 KB
ISBN: 978-1530900282ASIN: B01KNEJ9SQ
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction / Family Saga
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Premier Virtual Author Book Tours.
With these words ringing in his 60-year old ears, Howard Brown, Jr., sets out from Kentfield, California to find his wayward and possibly psychotic sister and return her to their dying father’s bedside. The search leads him to the Brown family’s ancestral home near St. Francisville, Louisiana, where his Southern cousins have apparently conspired with his sister to bilk him out his inherited, potentially oil-rich property. At the same time, he discovers that a long dormant birthmark in his sternum is a portal to the land of the dead. His consciousness is suddenly inundated with terrifying visitations from a rogue’s gallery of twisted ancestors, until he fears that he is just as crazy as his sister and everybody else in their labyrinthine family. Wounded to his core, doped up and strung out, Howard discovers that his salvation is beating loud and clear, within his own weary heart, and that all he has to do is listen.
The Healing of Howard Brown is a capacious and energetic narrative of self-discovery, delivered with an authentic voice that is supple, smart, somber, witty, ironic, self-revealing, self-doubting, and wonderfully lyrical. Themes of family, trust and responsibility to others, the national as well as personal past, and the life of the spirit resound throughout, with a cultural resonance involving class and race, the North and the South, the definition of masculine identity, and, centrally, the nature of mature love in a multitude of relationships-husband-wife, brother-sister, father-son- in the face of a debilitating mental illness that runs like a poison vein through the family tree.
Praise for The Healing of Howard Brown by Jeb Stewart Harrison:
“If you enjoy beautiful prose, complex themes of family and race, and a refreshingly original narrator, this book is for you. Harrison is among the select few contemporary fiction writers who still write for serious readers.” – Jim Heynen, author, best known for The One Room Schoolhouse, The Boys’ House, You Know What is Right, The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap and many more.
“This book starts off with a bang and keeps on going. Howard is a character with a specific voice and story. I’m sure you’ll be provoked and entertained.”- Jessica Barksdale Inclan, author of The Believe Trilogy, The Being Trilogy, and many more.
“Jeb Stewart Harrison is an original writer and a multitalented creative person. I enjoy his unique and often innovative narrative structure. His books are thoughtfully written and a pleasure to read and savor. While you turn future pages in your life reread this inspiring story. As time goes by—(when you’re older and hopefully ‘wiser’) you’ll feel new motivation with each visit into Howard’s inimitable life.”- Paul C. Steffy, author, The Good Soldier—based on his Infantry year in Vietnam.
“An ambitious story that navigates themes of family, redemption and even metaphysics, in a thought-provoking, humorous way. Harrison clearly has a deep affection for Howard and the myriad of colorful folk who make up his complex, often crazy life. A book any reader will continue thinking about long after putting it down.”- NW Bookman, Amazon Reviewer
My Book Review:
In The Healing of Howard Brown, author Jeb Stewart Harrison weaves an intriguing contemporary literary tale that follows sixty year old retired high school English teacher / basketball coach Howard Brown Jr., as he embarks on a personal journey to unravel the intricate dynamics of his dysfunctional family history, and unexpectedly gains a new level of self-discovery.
Set in Kentfield, California and St. Francisville, Louisiana, and told in the first person narrative, the author weaves a fascinating tale that easily engages the reader to follow Howard's journey to find his missing mentally unstable sister Sisi, who disappeared before the the death of their father. Howard takes the reader on a wild ride as his journey into his family's dysfunctional past mixes with the present, leading him from his home in California back to his father's family's old plantation property in Louisiana in search of Sisi, that will unexpectedly lead him on a personal journey of deep soul searching and self-discovery.
The author weaves a well written and fascinating family drama that delves into the complexity of the Brown family dynamic, and the serious issues of alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, Alzheimer's Disease, and emotional abuse that plagued the Brown family throughout the years. Through all the crazy mishaps and trials and tribulations that Howard endures while on his journey, he learns to face his demons, the importance of letting go, and the healing power of redemption.
The author provides a wonderful mixture of drama, humor, and seriousness to the story that easily keeps the reader's interest as Howard's journey unfolds. I would be remiss if I didn't mention how much I really enjoyed the author's rich and vividly descriptive style of writing, especially the wonderful descriptions of the California and Louisiana settings.
The Healing of Howard Brown is a thought-provoking contemporary literary tale that will draw you in, touch your soul, and leave a smile on your face.
RATING: 5 STARS
About The Author
Jeb Stewart Harrison is a freelance writer, songwriter, musician and painter in Stinson Beach, California. After many years as an ad agency copywriter, writer/producer, creative director, and director of marketing communications, Jeb now writes fiction and creative non-fiction, along with commercial works for hire.
Jeb’s debut novel, Hack, was published by Harper Davis Publishers in August 2012. In 2015 he received his MFA from Pacific Lutheran University at the tender age of 60, and followed up with the publication of The Healing of Howard Brown in August, 2016. He also records and plays electric bass guitar with the popular instrumental combo The Treble Makers, as well as Bay Area favorites Call Me Bwana.
Jeb was born and raised in Kentfield, California, and has lived in Boulder, CO; Missoula, MT; Hollywood, CA; Scottsdale, AZ; Indianapolis, IN and Ridgefield, CT.
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