The Angels of Morgan Hill
by Donna VanLiere
There are many writers who are able to write a good story, which can be artful with an articulate voice, or put words masterfully on a page. Donna VanLiere reaches a new limit of magic with The Angels of Morgan Hill. She writes not from her heart but from her soul! Every book that I have read by Mrs. VanLiere teaches a meaningful lesson on life and opens doors to my own world of living.
The story begins in Morgan Hills, Tennessee in 1947. It's an all-white community in which nine year old Jane Gable’s abusive alcoholic father is buried. She then sees her first African American boy named Milo. Mrs. VanLiere threads a tale of small town life, tragedy, hate, love, and change that quilts the human heart into a beautiful story. One of the most touching scenes in the story is between Addy and Fran. Addy tells Fran of a conversation that she had with her mother at the age of twelve while picking cotton.
“I said, mama, I’m tired.’ And she hollered out. Of course you’s tired. We’s all tired.” But you ain’t got no choice. You didn’t pick this race…you was chosen for it, and there ain’t nobody said it was gonna be easy. They’ll be times when you’ll be hot and tired and nearly dead, and nobody will offer you a cup of cold water…but some will, and they’ll offer just enough to keep you’s runnin’. "They won’t be a lot of peoples along the way, but they’ ll be some and Yo Mama will always be one of them."
How true Mrs. VanLiere, we each carry that cup of water and the choice of what we do with it. In Romans 12: 4-8 it states, “For as in one body we have many members. And not all the members have the same function so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” Paul’s concept of how we should live and work together is clearly exemplified in this story as Fran adopts Milo and just when Fran is tired, struggling, and lost, a small host of characters from Morgan Hill appear to offer that needed cup of water. Milo must make a choice: if he should live with his own kind or live with a white family. The choice that Henry made long ago to leave or stay at Morgan Hill and that special spot on Widow’s Mountain where lives are changed and life is reexamined. The choice of each town member of Morgan Hill as the school year began with a colored child. Then the change in Aunt Dora ties and creates the binding of the quilt of Morgan Hill the outer binding that Mrs. VanLiere frames the story with.
I must admit, I finished this book in less than two days and with many boxes of tissues. Mrs. VanLiere has an amazing gift much like Paul. God gave him the ability to share effectively the gospel of Christ. Mrs. VanLiere is not an apostle or even an evangelist but God has blessed her with opportunity to write stories of the heart and of the soul. Stories that contain themes of human choice are ever so present. No matter what you look like, your faith or where you come from we each have a tiny part in this world of life. Maybe that is why her books are so compelling, natural and loving. I cannot state in words how highly I recommend this book. Moreover, I do know that lives can be blessed and touched with a simple book and when an author shares a little bit of their passion and soul.