book review: Mindful of Him

 Book review & Author Interview: Mindful of Him

  Title: Mindful of Him

 Author: Hollis Hughes

 Publisher: Wine Press Publishing

 Complimentary Copy from: Litfuse Publicity Group

 Rating: B

“After everything turned out the way it did, you did right. When a feller has a lot of things on his mind that need sorting out, there’s no place like out there to do it in.” He pointed in the general direction of the woods and river as he said this. “There are things a man has to do after events have completely jerked him up by the roots, if his spirit is not going to wither and die. He needs days and nights alone in a place like God created for him in the first place … when you get right down to it, the things that really matter are always about ourselves and the Creator, and you learn about them when you are out where there’s nobody but you and Him. And that, Rob, is why modern man will never know what his life is all about—he’s separated himself from his source.” (pg 101-102.)

Synopsis

Existentialism, humanism, chance. These have defined Rob McLain’s worldview. As he watches his parents’ caskets descend into their graves, he wonders about his decision to discard God for “enlightenment.” Without God, whom can he blame? Suddenly, Rob is stripped of everything he holds dear: marriage, friendship, school. Embittered and empty, he embarks on a wilderness journey to the beginning of the Canoba River. At the end of his quest, Rob discovers the source of the river and something unexpected—the Source of truth.

My Review

Mindful of Him is truly a guys’ story. This story is written about men and for men, about how men deal with issues of worth and purpose during times of crisis, and how men deal with loss when the foundation of all established crumbles apart. Women … we call in reinforcements! We gather together in supportive groups, sip some tea, and spend hours talking (and crying) it all out. Men … eh, not so much. Men, like Rob McLain, retreat, withdraw from community, and embark on a therapeutic wilderness journey akin to man vs. wild.

We find Rob in the midst of crisis. A series of major crises, actually. Enduring the loss of his parents, firstborn child, and a painful separation from his wife, McLain embarks on what becomes a 5-month journey to locate the source of the Canoba River. With canoe, tent, and few supplies in tow, Rob’s quest to find the source becomes a metaphor for the internal struggle within. Rob’s journey up the Canoba River is long and slow, presenting challenges, meaningful moments, and unexpected discoveries along the way.

While the heart of Mindful of Him is the emotional and intellectual wrestling taking place within as Rob attempts to make sense of each loss in his life, the transformation occurs through the men he encounters along the way: Ted Moore, Rufus Murphy, Paul Anderson, and Ed McNeal. Each is different as can be. Some mirror Rob’s existentialist beliefs, valuing reason and logic. Others find solace and meaning in nature and forging their own path. Few ascribe to the belief that God exists and is present in the midst of all things.

All can embellish a story grander than the one before. And it is often during times of sharing a meal together, swapping stories, that Ted, Rufus, Paul, and Ed open up, in one way or another, taking the opportunity to impart words of wisdom into a hurting young man. In so doing, this rag-tag cast of men weaves a trail of encouragement forged by lessons learned from life’s hardships. Every piece of advice leads Rob closer to the source of the river and the answers he seeks.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. To see what others are saying about Mindful of Him, visit the Litfuse Blog Tour or visit Wine Press Publishing.

About the Author

On a cold February day in 1928, Hollis Hughes was born in a ramshackle house in an isolated rural area with no insulation, plumbing, or electricity. Like so many others during those years, the Hughes family depended on a woodburning fireplace for most of their heat. As a youngster, age nine, Hollis was responsible for milking and feeding a cow and occasionally tended other livestock before and after school. Since most of their food was farm grown, the Hughes family ate well and didn’t suffer as much as others, even in the midst of their poverty throughout the Great Depression.

In September of 1946, eighteen-year-old Hollis arrived at Athens College with a cardboard suitcase and navy duffel bag with $10.00 in his pocket. He paid room, board, and tuition by working in the college library 20 to 30 hours a week. Finishing his coursework by the end of February 1950, Hollis had already been teaching school three months prior to graduation. Three years later, he was both a teacher and a counselor at a high school and continued there as a counselor until 1988. For nine years, Hollis taught night classes at a community college. When his wife dropped out of teaching to have children, Hollis operated a successful rhododendron nursery for many years in an effort to make ends meet. In 1988, Hollis’ wife, Janett, was struck down with Alzheimer’s disease; he spent the next twelve years taking care of Janett, as the disease took its toll. It was during this time Hollis finally found time to write.

Today, Hollis is retired from education. He is an avid fly fisherman, hiker, and gardener. He is a current member of the American Camellia Society, a lifetime member of the Birmingham Botanical Society, a former member of the American Rhododendron Society, and is in the process of registering a cold-hardy hybrid camellia. Hollis and his wife, Lera, attend Mount Zion Baptist Church and make their home in Alabama on twenty-one acres of woodland where he has lived for the past 51 years.

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