Saturday, January 29, 2011

(11) Miracles, Inc by TJ Forrester

I had zero expectations when I picked up Miracles, Inc., the debut novel by TJ Forrester. I knew it was about a televangelist, but I truly thought that it would be a dry novel that I probably wouldn't even finish. I was way wrong. The characters are well written, and the story is engaging, in that "can't look away from a train wreck" kind of way. It was a fast and furious type of read that will give this debut author longevity with his new fans.

Miracles, Inc. is about a young, charismatic slacker who has been handpicked to become the next big thing. His charming demeanor and his handsome looks have tent revival owner, Miriam, positive that Vernon L. Oliver will have the crowds eating out of his hand and opening their pocketbooks wide open. She is right. From his first "performance", when he rides his new Harley on to stage, he is destined to be more popular than Jim Bakker or Joel Osteen. He marries his girlfriend, the tormented Ricki, and his life is great. Until, of course, it isn't. With money and power come great risks.

When we are first introduced to Vernon, he is a guest of the State of Florida, on death row. The once revered Reverend is now counting down the days to when the State will take his life. We, his audience, do not know why he is on death row. In fact it isn't until the last third of the book that we discover what his great crime was. The author flashes us back and forth, from Vernon before he was the all powerful televangelist, and now, as he sits on death row. As his story continues, the reader really becomes quite fond of Vernon, as one would become fond of the scruffy little next door neighbor kid. He has had a rough life and has done some crappy things, but underneath it all, he has a heart of gold and just wants to be accepted. That fondness makes it hard to read further into the book, as his "day" draws near, but to stop reading would be like turning your back on that scruffy little kid.

I really enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would. I am not giving it a "Best of" because it didn't really evoke extreme emotions, but it did keep me hooked from the first page. I am not sure how I feel about the ending. I don't want to say too much to give it away, but the end seemed a little forced. Even though the end was not what it could have been, I really enjoyed this book and I think it is well worth the read. The author did a great job of bringing Vernon into our world, wild excess, horrible flaws, and all.

Disclaimer to my readers: To be completely honest, I can see where some of the devout might have problems with this book. If you go into it knowing that the book is about a shill, and the rise and fall of that shill, then you are less likely to be offended by what takes place. Some of the concepts of this book and actions of the characters could be considered offensive to some. Others will just take it as the satire it was meant to be. Either way, I would LOVE to hear what you think about this book! You can find it on bookstore shelves this week!


Chancelucky said...

I look forward to checking out that ending.

Anonymous said...

Very good review. I'll have to try this one. TJ's got a unique way of looking at life through his writing.

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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