Book 3: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

I am not sure if you know this, but this book was nominated for the Morris Award this year. I cannot saw without a doubt that it will win because I have not bee lucky enough to read all 5 books nominated. I can say without a doubt that this book is amazing and deserves to win all kinds of awards.

This book is a musician’s first attempt at writing fiction, and I couldn’t even tell. It is well written with clear character development and an engaging plot line. You instantly fall in love with this rag-tag group of outcasts.

I have read that some people think this book negatively depicts southerners with its colloquial language and ideology. Some say that it makes Tennessee seem like a classless pit of zealots. I do not think this book does that. I am actually from a small town in Tennessee. I went to college in Cookeville, took many trips to Nashville, went to grad school at the University of Tennessee, and had to travel to Knoxville for school clothes. I lived this life. I was mocked for my weird style and interested, “fag” was shouted at me from time to time, and I couldn’t wait to get out. I also made important friends, fell in love for the first time, felt safe, and miss it.

This book is not for everyone to fall in love with. It is not a book that everyone will get. It is a reality that many live with in rural America. It is for those that might think they are alone. It is for those that dream big but think they may never get out of their small town. This book is for those that are different and strive for happiness.

If you can’t tell, I loved this book. It is rare that I find my younger self depicted in a book. I can’t say that I am much like Dill, Travis, or Lydia in life story, but I think parts of their separate stories can fit together to resonate with all of us “back woods” kids.

For readers, please give this a try, especially if you are from small town America.

For librarians, I am sure you already know to buy this. If you need reminding, DO IT NOW!


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