Book Review of Bayou Jesus by M. G. Miller
You can feel the heat of the bayou while reading Bayou Jesus. M. G. Miller draws you into the scene so thoroughly you feel you’re there. He also pulls you into the minds and hearts of his truly 3-dimensional characters.
As an author, I read books both as a reader for enjoyment and as a wordsmith. Thus, my book reviews will address not only the story from a reader’s perspective, but will also include thoughts on the craft of writing for authors. I hope the writing tips and advice along with the review will be of value to you
Setting is more than a place. It’s a mood.
I love how Miller creates the proper mood with his descriptions, as in this example:
“The faded red brick climbed two stories toward bleached olive shutters, cracked and peeling, closed against the light.”
He packs more than mere description of setting into his writing. One issue that plagues many newer authors is the difference between merely describing a thing and using those words to set a mood. If this is one of your writing faults, read this book and underline all the well-wrought bits of setting you find throughout the novel.
You travel to the deep South of the 1960’s. Whereas in some books it feels as if you’re in a dark closet with random objects appearing and disappearing, in Bayou Jesus, you’re in a world. You may even be tempted to swat a mosquito from time to time while reading.
Characters read like real people.
Even in a work of fiction, characters need to be believable, and in Bayou Jesus, they surely do. There is no “type” of person. Each is unique, with habits, hopes, fears, and history that comes out as the story progresses.
As you read the book, notice how backstory is not rolled out in long passages that interrupt the flow. You discover the characters’ lives a little at a time, as you do with living people in real life.
Dialect sets the tone.
Dialect can be tricky. I’ve been in plenty of critique group sessions in which authors questioned my own use of dialect. Next time that happens, I’ll show them Bayou Jesus. Miller lets the characters talk and accurately renders that, grammatical mistakes, contractions and all, into their conversation. which is as it should be.
“He still there,” she said. “Probably thinkin about what he done.”
Bayou Jesus is much more than the tale of a reluctant messianic figure and the people who flock to him. It is a story of people seeking meaning and redemption. You will not find a heavy-handed moralistic message, but a study of characters full of loss and longing.
Surprises make life more interesting.
Wow, what a surprise you will find as you delve into the story. I won’t give anything away, but I found myself wondering how such a seemingly mild mannered young man as mike Miller came up with such a shocking turn of events.
Bayou Jesus was a binge read for me. It is truly a riveting book, and a great study in writing for those authors who wish to improve your craft.
Follo your B.L.I.S.S.,
Ronda Del Boccio
bestselling nonfiction and fantasy author
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Book Review: Bayou Jesus by M. G. miller