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The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle by Jedah Mayberry

The 2014 Red City Review Book Awards Grand Prize Winner – General Fiction

5redstars

An ambitious novel of excellent literary quality, The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle is the kind of book that you can get lost within. By combining elements of a family saga with a coming of age story, author Jedah Mayberry has constructed a searing tale of love and loss, all the while offering up philosophical anecdotes that fit right into the story, causing the reader to reconsider notions they previously believed they understood. The narrative takes place in the town of Preston, Connecticut and introduces us to the lives of three generations of the Hopkins family, including the quick-tempered Grandpa Tuke, the selfless mother Dottie, the unhappy father Chester, and their two sons, Langston and Trajan. When a horrifying accident destroys the balance that the family has come to know, each character is forced to deal with the dilemma of how to overcome such a sudden and unrelenting change. The focus of the book rests on the shoulders of Trajan, the younger brother who must now learn to survive the difficulties of growing up and becoming a man without much guidance from anyone else. Through changing relationships with old friends, coming to know the intimate world of women, and the danger of an ominous drug ring that looms over the area, by the time the final pages of the narrative come to a close, Trajan is no longer the same boy we met at the beginning of the novel.

Beautiful in all aspects of its construction, The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle is a triumph that takes risks, and succeeds in all it sets out to do. By no means a simple narrative, Jedah Mayberry has written an account that meanders and sways, pulsing like a river rushing over a cliff. Through his complex ideas and reflections on everyday life, Mayberry is able to ground the story by keeping his characters vulnerable. The reader will truly care about what happens to each member of the Hopkins family, even if some of them don’t necessary deserve a happy ending. Littered with strong supporting characters, this novel never slows down or lags, as it continues to take the reader on a journey of a young man discovering himself as he finds what he believes in. The prose contained here is delicately fluid and poetic, just as the dialogue is raw and realistic. With a crisp and creative interior design, coupled with a breathtaking cover that foreshadows the juxtaposition of both the focused and blurred contents inside, The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle is a wholly original and satisfying read.

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