Author:  Tom Edwards
Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-89733-587-4

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Blue Jesus by Tom Edwards is probably one of the best fiction reads I have had in a long time.  I found it so good that I have already read it twice, and I know I will read it yet again.
 
Blue Jesus is the story of an eleven year-old boy named Buddy, also the narrator, and his best friend, Earl Lee, known locally as Early.  Early is unique in that he and his family are called "blue people", as they suffer from a malady that causes their skin to be blue in color.  Early also seems to possess a supernatural power that allows him to bring people back from the dead.
 
Early's powers first come to light when the boys stumble upon a dead baby in the local dump.  Early is overcome by a special feeling, takes the baby in his hands, and brings it back to life.  As the local Comfort Corners, Georgia population finds out about this, he becomes a local celebrity.  Buddy enjoys his newfound popularity as he is Early's best friend.

Despite having done so much good, the two boys are also plagued by personal woes.  Buddy recently lost his mother to cancer, his brother never has anything nice to say about him, and his father is rarely around.  He's also considered to be a sissy, and is regularly beaten up by the town bully.  Early's father regularly beats him for bringing unwanted attention to himself and the other blue people.  He also tries to capitalize on Early's talents, touting him as the "Blue Jesus" and taking money from those hopeful to be cured as he lays hands on them.

The story takes place in the South in the 1960s, a time when blacks and whites were still at war with each other.  Adding to the mayhem is the prejudice against the blue people, who really did exist back then.  The blue people were ridiculed by blacks and whites alike.  Present in the novel is also strife between different Christian denominations.  It is told from the point of view of 11 year-old Buddy, allowing for some innocent insights into the situations.

Blue Jesus is an easy and entertaining read that inspires all kinds of emotions.  It is also quality literature.  The storyline and style is reminiscent of Toni Morrison.  There are also glimpses of Stephen King, as in The Green Mile.  This is author Tom Edwards' first novel.


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