Monday, January 8, 2024

Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way

Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way by Jeffrey Blount
1/16/24; 350 pages
Beaufort Books

Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way by Jeffrey Blount is a feel-good novel about redemption, giving of yourself, assisting others, and empowerment. It is very highly recommended literary fiction.

James Henry Ferguson is a billionaire who made a mistake that was spread across social media and ruined his reputation. His wife, Rebecca, and daughters aren't talking to him. Neither are his father, a minister, and his mother. What he decides to do is flee and return to a simpler life. He buys a dilapidated house he sees online, has it fixed up for him, and moves to Ham, Mississippi. Once there he realizes he is now living by a community of abject poverty that is called "Around the Way."

He becomes known as Mr. Jimmy and he immediately recalls lessons his parents taught him about giving of yourself and helping others less fortunate. He establishes a relationship with his neighbors, beginning with Miss Septima next door . He begins to help the children both is giving them paying jobs for a sense of responsibility and accomplishments, and helping them improve their reading skills. He tries to do more but the community of Ham is controlled by racism and a leader who enjoys his power and using it against people.

Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way is a novel that tugs at your heart strings while covering topics that seem hard to believe are still issues today. Mr. Jimmy is a great character and his heart is true. His immediate urge to reach out and find a way to help his neighbors is commendable. Even though he is trying to find redemption and make amends for an error and fall from grace - a departure from his moral integrity - he really does care about his new neighbors.

Once I started reading Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way, I was totally immersed in the novel and could barely stop thinking about the characters before I could get back to finishing it. It is that compelling and it will hold your complete attention throughout the entire narrative. While reading, I felt like I was there, experiencing Around the Way, the poverty, the families, the kids. The fact that literacy opens up a world of opportunity and a path to all sorts of other learning is something I am passionate about.

There is a measure of suspension of disbelief that is required for complete enjoyment of the plot. Certainly having something go viral on social media is believable, however, it is a bit of a stretch to think Jimmy's fall from grace would be as huge as depicted, especially considering Rebecca's problem and actions, and that this would send him off to do penance in rural Mississippi. And it is convenient in so many ways that he is a billionaire who can immediately do things to help. 4.5 rounded up because this is such a feel-good novel and the ending is satisfying.

Disclosure: My complimentary review copy was courtesy of Beaufort Books via Edelweiss.

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