I have never read a book quite like Preacha! Wanda Thomas Littles’ novel starts with a Tom Thumb wedding featuring 11-year-old Phillip “Preacha” Carver Jr. and his beautiful make-believe bride, Rita Prosser. The grand event takes place in the Shady Springs Missionary Baptist Church with church members and loved ones in attendance. Preacha possesses an extraordinary faith for a child of his age, but through that faith, many friends and relatives see God’s work at hand.
Littles writes in a unique genre of free verse that allows us to see this story come alive through the actual words of many different characters. In the same way, the twisting and turning of a variety of plots move us from suspense, to love, to tragedy and to humor. The characters, places, and events are drawn from the author’s own childhood, but it’s not her memoir. In Littles’ own words, it’s a “work of fiction steeped in a volatile era of change and challenge…during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement…” In Preacha!, we see a small
southern community of the 1960s as they experience the bias that comes not
only from without (whites), but also from within (the fair skinned and the very dark) their own people.
Throughout Preacha!, we see families living through injustices as they are strengthened by God’s mercy and grace. Littles’ use of cultural language and emotional wording brings us closer to the action and gets us involved with a “community of people who rose above ignorance and hatred to be something better.” The subtle Christian undertones culminate in lessons learned as to how God moves in the lives of His people.
Preacha! is a page turner and a must read for all who question if God has a plan.
Review by Judy Watters