At the age of eighteen, musician and songwriter Cooper O’Connor took everything his father held dear and drove 1,200 miles from home to Nashville, his life riding on a six-string guitar and the bold wager that he had talent. But his wager soon proved foolish.
Five years after losing everything, he falls in love with Daley Cross, an angelic voice in need of a song. But just as he realizes his love for Daley, Cooper faces a tragedy that threatens his life as well as his career. With nowhere else to go, he returns to his remote home in the Colorado Mountains, searching for answers about his father and his faith.
When Daley shows up on his street corner twenty years later, he wonders if it’s too late to tell her the truth about his past—and if he is ready to face it.
A radical retelling of the story of the prodigal son, Long Way Gone takes us from tent revivals to the Ryman Auditorium to the tender relationship between a broken man and the father who never stopped calling him home.@goodreads
Wow, I had no idea I would like this book so much. It touched me in so many ways, it's taken me a bit to figure what I'm even going to say. I laughed and I cried and I loved.
When Cooper finally made his way home to Colorado he was a changed man in many ways. His music career was over, or so it seemed. He had plenty of money and he fixed up the old Ptarmigan Theatre his dad bought years ago but never did anything with it. Cooper made it into a nice little theatre with recording equipment and he had local talent, schools musicals, touring choirs, etc that would play there. He also made a little apartment above that he lived in when it was winter since his cabin was way up on the mountain. The cabin his dad build years ago. He also secretly bought "The Rope" where they play music nightly and make money from plenty of tourists coming to drink and hear music.
Cooper was magic on the guitar but these days he plays for the wonderful people at the old folks home. Big-Big (my favorite character) is a large black man that has been in Cooper's life since he was little and he plays piano and some of the old folks play some other instruments. Good times =)
The story goes back and forth from the present to the past but the author does this in a way that is not confusing at all. <--That is saying a lot because it doesn't take much to confuse me.
Cooper actually meets his old flame and singing/playing partner, Daley Cross in his home town. He couldn't believe it. Of course he found her in a bad way but you should never hitch hike! Anyway, they spend some time together and talk about the past. But then Daley is on her way, only for awhile though. It all works out in the end. There is a big, sad love story there. Along with Cooper's history of what happened to him. It threw me for a loop!
When Cooper was kid his dad was a revival preacher so they went around a lot. And this is how his dad picked up Big-Big and he was a wonderful man through-out the whole story. Well, so was Cooper's father too. But when Cooper got older he set out on his own, got some fame, met Daley, got some more fame, had a very horrific thing happen to him and then he came home. The revelations that came out throughout the book really touched me and made me cry. It's one of those WHY?? moments.
Anyway, I have rambled on too much so I'm going to leave with some excerpts.
Because revivals occur mostly at night, Dad spent a lot of daytime hours in small towns where he preached, drumming up interest. He'd eat in the local diner, hamming it up with the waitresses; he'd get a shave in the local barbershop; he'd do a load of laundry at the Laundromat; and, given that the residents were a rather captive audience, he'd take his message to local prisons. That's where he met Big Ivory, who was serving a five-year sentence for assault-which, given his size, must have been easy to do. Big Ivory was about six feet six inches tall, probably weighed close to two hundred and eighty pounds, and while his teeth were the color of ivory, his skin was coffee black. He said when he got out, Dad was the only guy of any color who offered him a job.
Dad had been waiting on Big-Big when he walked out of prison. The way Big-Big tells it, Dad rolled down the window of his bus and said, "You hungry?"
Big-Big said, "I looked at this white man and thought, He crazy. But my stomach was growling." Their friendship started at breakfast.
When Dad finished, Mr. Slocumb looked at me, then back at Dad, then at Big-Big, then back at me, and finally back at Dad. He tipped his hat back slightly and hung his thumbs in his belt loops.
"Let me get this straight. You happened to be trespassing one day on my land, where I've posted more than two hundred No Trespassing signs, and you happened upon my pretty little meadow up yonder. And you thought to yourself, this'd make a great site for preaching tent revival where you're gonna have a stage and some tents that will just magically appear. And this man here"-he thumbed at Big-Big-"who's bigger than any human I ever seen, is gonna play pianer while you-"He glanced at me, flipped the toothpick, and then stared back at Dad. "While you preach fire and brimstone to several hundred, maybe even a few thousand self-proclaimed and attentive sinners who are gonna miraculously appear with cars and picnics and umbrellers. And every one of them people, in order to get to your little revival, is gonna parade across my pasture here an then park on the grass that I intend to feed to my cattle before it snows this winter."
He paused and swallowed. "And to top it all off, you're gonna do all this without passing the plate, without taking nothing from nobody and without talking once't about money or giving or how if they don't they's stealing from"-he pointed up-"the Lord," He nodded. "That right?"
Dad nodded. "That pretty much sums it up."
The man laughed. "Mister, you got bigger-" He glanced at me again. "Than my bull out yonder." He rolled his eyes and turned to Big-Big. "Fella, what size shoe you wear?"
Big-Big never hestitated, "Fi'teen."
It's funny, it's sad, it's a coming of age story, it's life. It's great! I never would have thought. I seem to find gems when I least expect it!
*I got a print copy of this book through the BookLookBloggers Program.*
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