I have often heard the comment that a book changed someone's life. I cannot say I have ever had that experience, but I can say that this book changed my view of life.
This is a beautifully written book about a boy that grows up in the West Virginia coal country. His dad dies in a flood when he is young, his mom becomes his responsibility as he grows older, and he spends his whole life just getting by. However, his dad introduces him to the mandolin, and country gospel music, and he feels God's calling at a young age.
He spends his life trying to do God's will in his every day life, and also to bring country gospel music to folks that want to hear it.
This quiet, well written story follows the decades of Billy's life as he is ridiculed by schoolmates, and thought foolish in later years. Billy just continues to follow his own path. This is not a rags to riches fantasy, nor a tale of retribution and redemption, but rather a story of a life lived for God and the rewards that Billy eventually get to experience.
Interspersed between some chapters are the ruminations of Billy's guardian angel Malachi and his observations on the perspective from the earthly plane versus the heavenly plane. Malachi's comments on the abilities, flaws, and resilience of mankind are at times quite inspiring.
Maybe the undercurrent of music touched me, or the statement late in the novel that everyone has a song that plays through the course of their life, but this felt like a life lesson; perhaps not life changing, but certainly perspective shifting. That in itself makes this a very special book.