Coaltown Jesus (Hardcover)

By Ron Koertge

Candlewick, 9780763662288, 128pp.

Publication Date: October 8, 2013

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

When Jesus shows up in Walker’s life, healing triumphs over heartbreak in Koertge’s finest and funniest novel yet.

Walker shouldn’t have been so surprised to find Jesus standing in the middle of his bedroom. After all, he’d prayed for whoever was up there to help him, and to help his mom, who hadn’t stopped crying since Noah died two months ago. But since when have prayers actually been answered? And since when has Jesus been so . . . irreverent? But as astounding as Jesus’ sudden appearance is, it’s going to take more than divine intervention for Walker to come to terms with his brother’s sudden death. Why would God take seventeen-year-old Noah when half of the residents in his mom’s nursing home were waiting to die? And why would he send Jesus to Coaltown, Illinois, to pick up the pieces? In a spare and often humorous text, renowned poet Ron Koertge tackles some of life’s biggest questions — and humanizes the divine savior in a way that highlights the divinity in all of us.


About the Author

Ron Koertge is the author of many award-winning novels, including Shakespeare Bats Cleanup; Strays; Deadville; Margaux with an X; The Brimstone Journals; and The Arizona Kid. A two-time winner of the PEN Literary Award for Children’s Literature, Ron Koertge lives in South Pasadena, California.


Praise For Coaltown Jesus

Koertge’s verse novel ... is a good vehicle for meditations on life, loss, and faith. A spare and memorable work.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

In this tender free-verse narrative, Koertge explores quite literally the notion of faith as a balm in the wake of devastating loss. ... Koertge’s tight, spare verse captures the ineffable qualities of fraught relations and emotions. The generosity of spirit Walker exhibits makes this protagonist one easy for teen readers to not only empathize with, but emulate. Didactic yet not preachy, Koertge’s tale offers much food for thought.
—Kirkus Reviews

It’s a fast read, but one with substance—the conversations linger, and the healing that takes place is subtle.
—Publishers Weekly

Told in a sparse free verse... [t]he overall focus is on the theme of dealing with grief and knowing that although questions will always be there, we can help each other through trying times.
—Booklist

Rather than taking an irreverent approach to the character of Jesus, Koertge’s depiction actually serves to elevate the character of Walker; in the loving presence of Jesus, Walker is allowed to be angry, distrustful, and hesitant as he grows in self-awareness and grace and ultimately learns to see the goodness of the world through Jesus’ eyes. Pair this with Cynthia Rylant’s God Went to Beauty School for perspectives that refresh a sense of the numinous in everyday life.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This book’s poetic form is a well-chosen vehicle for its emotional content, strong message, and powerful ending. The story is an excellent portrayal of grief, letting go, healing, hope, and coming to terms with loss. In spite of its title and Jesus character, this book will appeal to teens, Christian or not, experiencing grief and loss.
—VOYA

Teens will be delighted with the jokes, the freshness, and the slightly subversive take on what is holy.
—School Library Journal

Walker has been praying to God to help him understand why his brother died and to help his mom who hasn’t stopped crying. He wakes to find Jesus standing at the end of his bed; this certainly couldn’t be the person he’d been praying to—this Jesus was funny, cracking jokes about everything. ... This short book will make readers laugh and cry.
—Library Media Connection