The Year of Jubilee is a lyrical coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the turbulent South in the early 1960s.
The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices even of those she loves the most.
From gifted songwriter Cindy Morgan comes this lyrical, tender tale of a girl standing at the threshold of adulthood, learning the depths of the human heart and the bonds of family that bend, break, and bind together over and over again.
I loved reading The Year of Jubilee, a powerful and inspiring young adult coming of age novel from debut author Cindy Morgan. The story is set in the summer of 1963 in the small town of Jubilee, Kentucky.
Grace is thirteen years old and her family background is complicated. She adores her father and seven year old brother, Isaac, but has difficult relationships with her mother, who she thinks of as Virginia rather than mama, and her older sister, Sissy. As the story unfolds, and we meet the extended family, we gain an understanding of the complex family relationships and past tragedies that have shaped the lives of Grace and her family.
I admired the courage of Grace’s English teacher, Miss Adams, who stood up for her beliefs and convictions despite potentially dangerous opposition and retribution. Grace’s aunt June was a breath of fresh air in her family, and a practical help when Grace’s parents were focused on Isaac’s care needs. Isaac’s journey is beautiful and heart breaking, and his strong faith touches the lives of many people.
Religious hypocrisy is explored in the story, and there were characters who said all the right Christian words and Bible quotes, but their attitudes, actions, and behaviour weren’t consistent with the good Christian image they presented to the world. The turbulent social change and political events taking place in 1963 impacted everyone who lived in Jubilee.
I loved Grace’s close relationship with her brother, and her desire to find solutions that would heal Isaac. Rojo, their pet rooster, was adorable. I recommend The Year of Jubilee to readers who like young adult coming of age Christian novels that deal with hard issues, including grief and loss, and have strong redemption and forgiveness themes in the story.
Many thanks to Tyndale for the Advanced Reader Copy.
I shared a fun interview with Cindy at the Australasian Christian Writers blog.