Author: J. Michael Dew
Publisher: Cladach Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-98-189299-3

“Have you not listened to a word I said? Everything is brief but God. Even decay. Even as far as you can possibly look into the future. God is certainly bigger than the here and now. What I’ve been sharing with you is not meant to be understood. It is meant to be accepted.” The donkey explains in J. Michael Dew’s novel, Gadly Plain.

At two hundred and twenty-four  pages, this paperback book is literary fiction targeted to young adults and older who may be dealing with losing a loved one, death, or abandonment. With no profanity, overtly sexual scenes or violence, the story is based on the Bible and God’s eternal love. Each chapter starts with a simple drawing by Ross Boone. At the end of the book are acknowledgements, a conversation with the author, fourteen discussion questions and a short author’s biography.

Twelve year old Spring-baby Westbay is at a loss. While living in Pennsylvania with her father, mother, and baby brother, her father’s chronic illness leads him to death at the early age of thirty three. To be buried in his Kentucky hometown, her mother leaves the youngest child with relatives and takes Spring-baby down South for the funeral.

Not fully understanding the finality of death, inquisitive Spring-baby observes those around her: her mother looking for a glimmer of hope, her grandmother reminiscing the child she lost, a grandfather trying to be stoic as he ages, and an uncle who has turned from God to the bottle.

When her mother leaves her abruptly at her grandparents’ home without even a goodbye, the coming-of-age girl is confused, shattered, and heartbroken. The only solace she finds is talking to Chirp, a mentally handicap man who takes care of animals at the nearby barn and tells her about a special donkey that has been around since creation and has never met death.

Through the use of an allegory, the writer tells the story of how Jesus has conquered death as Chirp relates the donkey’s travels throughout time. Starting with Adam and Eve and Noah to Abraham, Moses, Balaam, David, and Jesus’s birth, burial, and resurrection, Spring-baby comes to terms with her mortality and those she loves.

Reminding us that death is only the body changing and not our souls, the donkey’s wisdom explains instinct and intuition in processing growing old and dying. Dew’s literary fiction makes us realize although we will be “way away,” we can be with Christ forever.

This book was furnished by Cladach Publishing in lieu of an unbiased review.

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