Book Review by Dr. Fred Lodge

Many of you know that I am an avid reader. At night before I go to sleep I especially like to read Christian novels. Today I want to recommend one that I think you will enjoy, especially since you know the novelist. We have several accomplished authors in our church family such as Leah Adams, Nancy Carter, and Doris Durbin. This gentleman is our most recent novelist. I am speaking of our own J. R. Collins.
Writing with an acute insight into the history and culture of his chosen time, Joe has captured the essence of life for the early settlers and Native Americans in our beloved Choestoe Valley. “Choestoe” is a Cherokee phrase that means, “dancing rabbits” and speaks of the abundance of small game in the valley.
An intricate mixture of tradition, history and fiction, “The Boy Who Danced with Rabbits” is a joy to read. Joe has captured the time, the language, and the society of the early white settlers as they mingled life and faith with the Cherokee.
From the stories that were handed down to Joe from generations of our best local storytellers, he has blended an engaging tale of a boy named Jeb growing up in the early days of our nation. History tells us that many Cherokee fought alongside Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Some of their decedents lived in the North Georgia area we now call home. One was Jeb’s best friend Wolf. These families, though different in culture, were united in the common bonds of survival and faith.
Jeb and Wolf were born the same night in different parts of Choestoe. Their fathers were as near blood brothers as a white man and a Cherokee could be. Their lives are intricately intertwined and their adventures keep you awake turning pages.
I think books like this should be required reading for all those who move into our beloved mountains. It captures the ethics and sense of morality that have been instilled for generations in our families. Part of what new folks find so charming about Blairsville and Union County are the actual values that have been handed down by our forefathers. The importance of family, the sense of community, the respect for the environment, the welcoming nature of the folks, the love of adventure, loyalty, commitment and the overall positive attitude that exudes in our community are all principles that are the essentials of life in Joe’s book and in the lives of our ancestors in this land we love.
You can sense the source of these and many other roots of our mountain heritage in this heartwarming tale of a boy coming into adulthood. If you like an adventure novel that is also a love story, mixed with growing faith and emerging manhood, you will enjoy Joe’s first book, “The Boy Who Danced with Rabbits.”

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