3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Serpents and Doves is a touching and moving historical fiction and coming-of-age novel written by G. Lloyd Helm.
Eighteen-year-old Stephen Mitchell from Sylmar, Los Angeles is off to Beacon College in Tennessee, to take up Divinity studies to be a minister. Raised conservatively, Stephen is both overwhelmed and exhilarated by his new-found freedom. Though his Divinity studies begin at Beacon, his education starts as soon as he gets on the train that takes him to Memphis, for a few days visit with his relatives.
In just a few weeks at Beacon College, Stephen gets to work at the library, meets and falls in love with a beautiful and alluring girl, gets a boy of color for roommate, and sings with the choir. In just a few months, he gets to mouth off a cop, gets drunk, gets punched, and places himself in a precarious situation.
With everything that is going on in Stephen’s life, he thinks he finally understands his mother’s warning before he boarded the train to Memphis not so long ago, to be ‘as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves’, the same warning Jesus gave his disciples when he sent them to preach on their own for the first time.
Told in the third-person perspective and with seventeen chapters, this is a poignant historical fiction and coming-of-age book about a smart, albeit, naïve boy, who gets a taste of the real world and seems disillusioned with it. The author successfully depicts the confusion of a young man, when he finds out that the color of the skin decides the fate of some people. Moreover, the book describes betrayal in its ugliest form, and shows what it can do to the fragile and impressionable heart of a young person.
The book brings up political issues during the late '60s including segregation and the Vietnam War. By using a young and naïve boy from California for a protagonist, the author presents a raw and an unadulterated point of view regarding prejudice, racial discrimination, zealotry, love, sex, betrayal, and murder.
Though the premise is not extraordinarily unique, the presentation of the plot evokes various emotions from the readers including dismay, disgust, anger, and relief, among others. The settings are described in meticulous detail and the dialogues are quite fitting for each character. Despite the absence of elaborate backstories, the characters are relatable and easy to connect with. Finally, though I usually prefer a more conclusive ending, I believe the story ends the way it should.
While the most important part of the book, for me, is Stephen’s adventurous journey towards self-discovery, the part I like most is the unpredictability of the plot. It made the book surprisingly engaging.
This is one great novel. However, there are too many noticeable errors within the entire book including misspelled words, improper capitalization and use of punctuation marks, and incorrect usage.
I, therefore, rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is moving, touching, and engaging. I recommend it to fans of historical fiction and coming-of-age novels. Scenes of sexual activities, however, may not be suitable for young readers.
Serpents and Doves
View: on Bookshelves
Like kimmyschemy06's review? Post a comment saying so!