Soulful, heartwarming, heart wrenching — that only begins to tell the effects of Long Way Gone, Charles Martin‘s masterpiece of non-fiction. This novel spoke to me in a way that very few others ever have. No surprise he is a bestselling author.
Through characters who step right off the page and into your heart, Martin takes the reader through both the creative and the dark sides of the music industry. In the process of telling this story, Martin shares the history of the songs, “O Danny Boy”, and “How Great Thou Art”, was well as the differences in the construction and, therefore the sounds of different guitars. Charles Martin either knows a lot about music, or he did extensive research to create a book that will not only educate you, it will peer into your soul.
Cooper (“Coop”) O’Connor is a classically trained pianist, turned songwriter who can play several musical instruments including the guitar. Coop leaves home at the naive age of 18, and travels to Nashville, where his money and his guitar are stolen. Working a menial job at the Ryman Theater, he meets the up-and-coming singer, Daley Cross. Now he has returned to his home in the mountains of Colorado.
Daley Cross is now a down-and-out former star with perfect pitch, who had four hit songs (written by Coop) before her producer began giving her poorly written songs after she refused his advances. When she is picked up while hitchhiking, then beaten with her own guitar and dumped on a sidewalk in Colorado, Coop is in the right place at the right time to assist her.
Long Way Gone is about a father’s love for his son, about giving back, about losing love and finding it again. It’s about facing our shortcomings, our self-doubts, and overcoming them. It shows us that it is never too late — we can always go home.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. It would be a great book club selection. It should be required reading for anyone seeking a career in the music industry. I gave it five stars on GoodReads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. More importantly, it won the 2017 Christy Award™ Book of the Year for Christian fiction.
What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
- Incorrect use of the phrase: “beg the question”; in this case it should have been “raise the question”. Begging the question means to make a conclusion or an argument based on a premise that lacks logical support. “Raises the question” means a statement brings up an additional question. “Begs the question”, means that your argument is weak, at best — worthless, at worst.
- Misspelled words: a McPherson guitar “filled the air with a sonic tapestry….and leant itself to…” “Leant” should be “lent”. This is most likely a computer error, but a good proofreader should have caught it.
- Single-sentence paragraphs – a huge no-no unless you’re in the newspaper business.
- Sentences beginning with “and” or “but”. Usually, the conjunction could be dropped from a stand-alone sentence. Often, the sentence could be combined with the preceding sentence.