Leah is a child from away, isolated from her peers because of her stutter. But then she begins painting scenes that are epic in scope, brilliant in detail, and suffused with rich, prophetic imagery. When the event foreshadowed in the first painting dramatically comes true, the town of Mattingly takes notice.
Leah attributes her ability to foretell the future to an invisible friend she calls the Rainbow Man. Some of the townsfolk are enchanted with her. Others fear her. But there is one thing they all agree on—there is no such thing as the Rainbow Man.
Her father, the town psychologist, is falling apart over his inability to heal his daughter or fix his marriage. And the town minister is unraveled by the notion a mere child with no formal training may be hearing from God more clearly than he does.
While the town bickers over what to do with this strange child, the content of Leah’s paintings grows darker. Still, Leah insists that the Rainbow Man’s heart is pure. But then a dramatic and tragic turn of events leaves the town reeling and places everyone’s lives in danger. Now the people of Mattingly face a single choice:
Will they cling to what they know . . . or embrace the things Leah believes in that cannot be seen?
The symbolism of the mockingbird has always escaped me, but it was the plot that drew me towards When Mockingbirds Sing. I wanted to know about Leah and her family. Who was she? What was her father like? What was she painting? The characters jumped off the page immediately, as did the small town setting where everyone knows everyone else. In particular, I loved the ‘voice’ of Allie. So much wiser than her years in some ways, Allie is the one child who befriends Leah even when up against peer pressure. She’s willing to defend Leah and even speak for her, but at the same time Allie is wondering how the Rainbow Man is like the God she knows from church.
I have to admit: I don’t know what to make of this book. Thomas Nelson is promoting it like crazy, and I’ve seen plenty of 5-star reviews on it. But, I can’t give it that many. I’ve read other novels where God’s actions were very evident, even if the characters wrestled with understanding them. Here, nothing seemed clear cut. I couldn’t decide whether the Rainbow Man was truly God or a demon? At first, I thought demon, but towards the end I thought it was God. Then I learned the title of the next book to be set in Mattingly and now I’m confused all over again!
Thank you to Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze review program for my free copy of When Mockingbirds Sing, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 04 June 2013
Page Count: 336