The Reedsy Discovery Review

Hello, Friends! I have news on The Sower, plus a humble request for support, if you can spare a moment.

First, the news. I’m doing my darndest to fling the seeds of this novel into the wind, hoping they’ll spread far and wide and take root. I’ve been applying for professional reviews with organizations and platforms that have a horde of followers. One of them is Reedsy Discovery. The review just came back, and it officially launched on their website today. It’s REALLY good!

Start reading the Reedsy Discovery review »

Now for the humble request. Reedsy operates on buzz. The more buzz, the more visibility they’ll give to a book (with possible inclusion in their weekly newsletter, which has tens of thousands of subscribers). They advise us authors who are blessed with a good review to muster our peeps on social media and get “upvotes.”

The review page I shared above has an “upvote” button in the banner. At your convenience, would you mind signing up/into their platform with your Gmail or Facebook account, and giving that button a happy little click? If you can spare a moment for this, I’ll be personally grateful.

On the review – I REALLY liked this one. It was written by an impartial judge who clearly read the book cover to cover, and devoted serious thought to the response. My favorite part was this passage:

“I enjoyed the characters and Fr. Koch’s dedication and determination to do what he could do and needed to do. His willingness to separate the Germans he knew and the innocent ones that he served from those that were Hitler’s cohorts was admirable. I appreciated that it gave another perspective and strived to show a different side to the story without stereotyping all German citizens of that time.”

As the author, I have to say that this was akin to climbing Mount Everest. Like most of us here in the States, my history lessons taught me that Germans were brainwashed into following National Socialism with a loyalty that was both cultural and fatal. When I traveled to Schwarzenfeld in 2005 and heard the stories of Fr. Viktor’s followers, it was a shock to the system. The people of this town had been exposed to foreign influences that were impossibly rare within the context of Nazi Germany—and it changed them in ways that no one could predict. To tell this story, I had to pulverize the black-white impression we have of Germans from the era, and show an entire prism of color between the extremes. What a relief to know that it works.

And, one surprise from this review. My judge mentioned on more than a few occasions a sense of humor. At first, I jerked my chin in shock and thought, “Now, when was I being funny?” True, Viktor himself (the main character and my historical great granduncle) did have a sense of humor—and clearly that made its way into his character. But it wasn’t something that I consciously tried to inject, given the context of Nazi Germany.

Reflecting on the novel, there are key moments—mainly a knee-slapping instant of schadenfreude in chapter 4, and in the end, when readers are trudging through the gritty surreal along with German characters they know and love, there are flashes of dark humor that provide levity. To me they were funny little ironies of German culture, and the innocence of children swept up in unimaginable horror. I figured that German readers would respond best to those (especially the dark humor and schadenfreude). But I’m delighted to discover that an American audience finds them well-placed, and they translate beyond cultures. I didn’t appreciate it before this, but when this story plunges the reader into its blackest and most painful depths, those fleeting moments must be an invitation to break above the waves and take a lusty gasp of air.

Above all, I’m glad to know that the novel is an EXPERIENCE. This is as it should be.