Days of Little Texas by R.A. Anderson
I picked up the ARC for Little Texas back in April at TLA. Since there are mountains of upcoming titles at the publisher’s booths, it’s hard to choose what to grab. I usually ask the vendors to recommend an ARC they feel a strong connection with; a book they really want to sell well. A kind, young gal at the Knopf counter pressed Nelson’s new YA story into my hands.
It was the first ARC I read after the conference. I’m so glad. It’s a gem.
Days of Little Texas might seem a departure from Nelson’s previous books (Teach Me, Breath My Name). While his other novels are riveting, I find Nelson’s voice in Texas equally engaging; a thick patina of southern culture and history imbues the story with an uncommon richness.
We see life (and death) through the eyes of a teenage protagonist, Little Texas (otherwise known as Ronald Earl), a charismatic evangelical. With help from Miss Wanda Joy and Sugar Tom, Little Texas preaches with a P.T. Barnum flair and a messianic fervor. During a revival, he heals a young woman gripped by illness. Or does he? The book unravels the mystery of this pale waif. Along the way, Little Texas is swept up and entangled in a startling revelation. By the waters of Vanderloo Plantation, he discovers the truth about terrible secrets buried since the days of the civil war.
Days of Little Texas is also a deft study in contrasts; the darkness of secrets and sin is contrasted against the light of truth and courage, the buoyant power of love against the weight of cruelty, and the power of forgiveness against the manipulation of guilt.
Pick up a copy of Days of Little Texas; you won’t regret it.
I recommend bingeing on Big Texas Peach Crumble while reading this book. Here’s my Recipe:
Big Texas Peach Crumble
Four cups peach pie filling (Canned will do in a pinch, but homemade is much, much better! Just ask your granny for her favorite method)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup real butter
Dash of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dump peach pie filling into a buttered 9 inch pie plate. For topping; combine sugar, flour, spices, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly (I use a pastry cutter to get the mixture as crumbly as the bridge at Vanderloo Plantation). Scatter crumble over peach filling.
Bake for about an hour. The crumble should develop a nice light brown crusty top (too little time in the oven, and the center is too soft.) Serve while still warm with half and half (my grandma’s favorite) or vanilla ice cream.
Enjoy your binge!