Friday, July 19, 2019

Book Review: 'The Changing Season' by Steven Manchester

Steven Manchester has authored such successful novels as `The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy' and many short stories that deal with one man's view of the universe in a lighter tone. Steven has a way with dealing with the ends of lives and the impact each of our lives has on those left behind that is a fine recurring theme in his novels. In TWELVE MONTHS he brought to us the changes that occur in the man who has been given a certain time to live after a diagnosis of cancer is realized. In THE ROCKIN' CHAIR he again dealt with en of life situations and how the coming together of a family at the time of death of a grandparent resurrects memories - and the value of dealing with memories that may have been both sad and happy.

But as is already evident from the other novels that have come to us from his gifted pen his spectrum of reflecting of the meaningful moments of life is not limited to these end of life journeys. In THE CHANGING SEASON (rarely has a coming of age story been so aptly titled!) Steven focuses on the passing of childhood and the entry into adulthood with all the stresses and experiences, the complex themes of love, faith, family and loyalty.

With the first page we are transported in medias res of the life journey to come: ‘There was no other way to describe it; they were driving home in the middle of a torrential downpour. “I can’t believe we’re actually graduating from high school in a couple days,” Billy said, trying to alleviate the anxiety he felt behind the wheel. “Well, I can believe I’m graduating,” Charlie said, “but I’m a little surprised you made it.” Besides being his childhood best friend, Billy knew Charlie Philips to be a quick-witted, happy-go-lucky clown who’d had a girlfriend by the seventh grade and three more by the time he and Billy had reached high school. Charlie was also the first to sample beer and the musky taste of cigarette smoke. He was a pioneer of sorts, a frontiersman amongst his peers.’ Billy Baker experiences love in all its manifestations— friendship, romance, his strong bond with his dog Jimmie, complicated family bonds and an unexpected passion for hard work— and discovers within himself the strength to survive the excruciating pain the loss of love can bring.

Steven is able to deliver difficult messages in a manner that signifies he is wise beyond his years. Each novel grows and with that Steven’s survey of the complete cycle of life. He will be around for a long time if there are more stories like this one to share. Grady Harp, February 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.