September 20, 2004
At an early age Jod had already
experienced a gamut of heartache, rejection and loss following the death of his mother.
His father, who was rarely there, left his children to fend for themselves as he looked for work and a replacement
for his late wife. He sends his four children to an orphanage, at which Jod is
promised that he will not be separated from his brothers, who are the only family that he ever truly knew. When he and his brothers were removed from the orphanage temporarily to meet their new mother and celebrate
Christmas, Jod was ignored and received no gifts from his family. Although that
was not worse than the death of his mother, Jod marks this occasion as the worse day in his life.
Thus we begin the cycle of
rebellion and hatred towards adults. He is separated from his brothers and beaten
daily in response to his rebellious behavior. The beatings have no effect on
him, for the harm done to his body pales in comparison to the psychological scars that he will always bear. He continues his
cycle or rebellion interlaced with constant attempts to escape the orphanage. The
adults continue to beat him and force him to accept religion but no one ever addresses the root cause of his behavior. Jod is very doubtful that God is concerned about his fate and feels that he has nothing to lose. They want to break him like a wild stallion but Jod knows that he is destined to be free and one day
– he escapes.
Jod, who is less than 8 years old at the time, sets out into the world to find his own way. He travels across the country alone, buying or stealing what he needs along the way. He rides with a band of Gypsies for a spell and is even employed by bootleggers for
a period of time. No matter what young Jod sets his hands and mind to, he is
successful. He acquires two dogs in his travels; they become the only family
that young Jod needs to survive the dangerous world.
Jod begins to find himself
and faith in God. In the most perilous times, as Jod calls out to God for assistance,
he is given whatever he is in need of. His adventures lead him to different parts
of the world where he leaves a favorable impression on adults who respect his rights to govern his own destiny. His faith in God and in adults is restored, but, for how long? It
seems that everything the world gives to Jod is almost surely taken away, but Jōd will press on in pursuit of his destiny
with the hopes that he and his brothers will be reunited some day.
This is a captivating story
of survival against all odds. Shippinbow weaves a very entertaining tale reminiscent
of some of Twain’s classics. The book includes vivid detail told from the
first-person point of view and you can see and understand some of Jod’s motivations that cause him to be the way that he is. Each word will entice you to read the next and you are almost unaware that you are turning the pages of
a book as the scenes melt together with no wasted detail. There are a few pages
with drawings of the characters or certain events and places – as if you are truly reading from a journal.
The main character is so young
and I would hope that there are more installments to “The Vignettes of Jod”. I would most certainly look forward to reading the rest of
this “journal” and I am wholeheartedly intrigued by the plot ad storyline.
Shippinbow’s American Story should most certainly be an American classic.
If you liked the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn then you will truly LOVE the adventures of Jod!
Reviewed by: Tyrone