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Broken Gourds
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   A spiritual combination of “Flowers for Algernon” and “Phenomenon”

Title: Broken Gourds
Author: Beresford McLean

Publisher: Anancybooks.com; (January 2003)

Genre: Fiction-General

ISBN: 0975329707

Paperback: 364 pp



Rating: Highly Recommended


September 1, 2004


Broken Gourds is an intriguing story about a “simpleton” named Dada.  Throughout most of his life he existed as an outsider, scorned by his family and laughed at by children and adults alike.  What he lacked in social grace, common sense and intelligence was compensated for by his beautiful singing voice, peaceful demeanor and compassion.  He was an outcast suffering from a disease that left gaping sores about his face that would never heal.  His father Prince was afraid that he would never leave his home and therefore stifle his own search for a bride to replace Dada’s deceased mother.  Prince embarked on a campaign to build a life for his son and make him comply with his vision of success.


Dada saw no harm in the way that he lived.  As long as there was food, a way to care for his crippled friend Twig and his grandmother – he was content.  One day, he failed his father for the last time by setting Prince’s livestock free and letting the water supply run dry.  As Dada ran for his life with his father at wit’s end threatening to kill him, his life changed.  He was given a vision and a magical gourd that could fill a well as if an endless supply of water was enclosed within the small container.  He was changing and he rushed to the side of his dying grandmother – and healed her with an embrace.  The wounds that covered his face – disappeared.  Dada’s eyes opened and he was no longer an uninterested observer, he was now an instrument of change.


Dada became an instrument of God, much like the gourd that contained the endless supply of water; he was filled with the power of God.  He established a place of worship called The Balm Yard and the miracles continued.  All that he touched were healed and he took on a new name – Brother Walk. He would travel throughout Albion, Jamaica preaching and healing all within reach.  Brother Walk was reborn and in this new form he learns about love, sensuality, self-sacrifice and temptation.  He is given an endless amount of power and his followers hang on every word that leaves his mouth.  However, we all know what happens with absolute power. This book has an ending that is both surprising and expected. 


Read this book and take part in this journey reminiscent of Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for Algernon” and the motion picture “Phenomenon” told with the classic flair of Steinbeck.  The journey is mystical and enjoyable and Beresford McLean’s style is similar to that of a revered storyteller.  His words and images will capture you and you will carry this story in your heart.


  Reviewed by Tyrone Vincent Banks


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