Brian was raised on "the wrong side of the tracks" in inner-city Alabama. Now, at nineteen, with a troubled past and juvenile record, Brian struggles to earn a living and find a life purpose. When he journeys to New York on a chance trip, Brian meets and falls in love with Shannon; a bright eyed, aspiring actress from California.
Brian returns to Alabama stirred by Shannon's courage and passion for life. With a new zest and reason for living, Brian is determined to turn himself into a man worthy of her love. Unable to afford college, Brian discovers the Os Guinness Scholarship, which provides free tuition to Pepperdine University for Irish students who desire to train for Ireland's ministry. With some innovative thinking, Brian fakes his Irish citizenry, accepts the scholarship, and moves to Southern California to attend school and pursue Shannon.
However, when Brian visits Alabama, all the lies come crashing down and Brian comes face to face with a past he thought was finished. Now, Brian must make a choice: lose Shannon by spinning more lies and choosing vengeance in hopes of putting his past to rest. Or choose honesty and forgiveness and embrace a new life with the only woman he ever loved.
Alabama Irish will make us sit back and laugh, then lay the book down and cry. But in the end, we'll be reminded that no matter our pasts, the possibility to find true love again is never lost.
You can learn more about James Russell and his work at jamesrussell.org
When we meet Brian, he is learning to focus his energies and emotions into journaling and that's exactly what this book is - his journal. Brian has had a hard childhood but he's in a stable home now living with his "Aunt and Uncle" who have taken an interest in his life and are trying to help him do the right things. His Uncle owns a dojo and Brian works with him and trains in martial arts.
When Brian gets a chance to take a trip to New York, a whole new world opens up for him. He meets Shannon from California and finds out that she goes to Pepperdine. There is an immediate connection between them and, in the few days they are together, Brian knows that she is the girl for him. This starts him on a whole new journey in his life.
He wants to go to Pepperdine to be with Shannon but his grades from high school and his poor financial status make this impossible without help. He hatches a plan to get false identification as an Irish citizen so he can use the Os Guinness Scholarship which will allow him to go for free. Amazingly, it all falls into place and he begins a new chapter in his life. He can't tell his family that he's lied to do this nor can he tell Shannon when he runs into her at Pepperdine because she values honesty from other. His life is a series of great adventure yet guilt that he has lied to get there.
Like Mr. Lingerfelt's other book, The Mason Jar, this book is full of nuances and deep writing that requires you to think as you read it. It's not a typical romance that requires little to no thinking to read. You'll miss a lot if you don't pay attention to his writing and it will be a great loss if you do. Yes, you can read this totally at face value and enjoy the book, but there's so much more to it.
I hardly ever highlight a fiction book, however, I found myself doing that with this book. Here's some of the really great writing/thoughts from this book:
- Practice produces habit, and habit produces character.
- Use your past to guide you. Not bind you.
- It isn't the suffering and pain we're thankful for. We're never thankful for that. But we are thankful for the lessons those experiences taught us.
- We can't fully understand our loved ones, but we can still love them completely. And now I ask myself, do I have the maturity to accept others? To accept their faults? Can I be all right with my own past and the fact that my life hasn't turned out like I imagined as a kid? Can I be all right with being human?
I loved this book. I love the nuances of the writing, the fact that it's a story with depth and meaning. There is growth in the characters and realizations about life that is shared with the reader. You feel like you're let in on a special secret about life when you're done with the book and I think that makes this book extra special. I was provided an ebook version of this book by the author for my review but I love it so much, I want a hard copy to keep and read again. There's nothing like a real book of a treasured story. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Blessings - Julie