O Little Town
David C. Cook, Oct 2008, $16.99
In 1958 in Mt Jefferson, Macalbee’s Five & Dime manager Milton Sandridge is informed that fifteen year old Millie Franklin has been caught shoplifting. Milton would prefer to ignore the crime as the culprit is the daughter of Reverend Paul Franklin, pastor of the Methodist Church, but there are too many witnesses. He calls Police Lieutenant Buddy Briggs who comes over to talk with Millie before taking her home. Millie is upset and angry, but refuses to say anything further. Her father and her mother Dove ask her why.
Widower Walter Selmon, Milton’s father-in-law, is rushed to the hospital where his other son-in-law Camp Sterrett is a doctor. The medical tests conclude he is dying, upsetting his two adult daughters, Milton’s wife Colleen and Camp’s spouse Doris. Doris’ oldest of two sons, seventeen years old Louis informs his parents he impregnated sixteen year old Shirley Ann Briggs; who informs her dad the sheriff and her mom Amanda.
The key to this engaging historical fiction is the fully developed small-town cast who each has flaws, makes mistakes, and has issues. The subplot involving a teenage Walter and an actress in 1904 is well written but can distract from the prime 1958 drama. Still O LITTLE TOWN is a delightful inspirational tale with the theme of forgiveness running through both tracks accentuated years later with the tradition of the roses emphasizing all is forgiven.