—KNLE Radio (Austin, TX)
—Abilene (TX) Reporter-News
"A must-read for Christian families."
—Norman (OK) Transcript
"True-to-life small town Texas, perhaps as you've never read it before. . . . The difference between Dwyer's story and so many other 'small town' novels... is that Dwyer is writing about the real thing, not some imaginary ideal . . . reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird."
—Christian Fiction Review
"A heartwarming story of Texana. The relationship between Katie Shanahan and her father is precious."
—Susan Bauer, author of Circle of Love
"John Dwyer gives an unflinching portrayal of one community's corruption and brokenness yet also captures its courage, hope, and grace. He tells the truth about Texas . . . and about the human soul."
Literature Instructor, Coram Deo Academy, Flower Mound, Texas
Young Katie Shanahan’s life is idyllic until the day her father sets out in search of a rabid dog and encounters several men discussing a mysterious business deal. Upon spying him, the men assure him that their business venture will bring plenty of jobs for folks in Cotton Patch, Texas. At a town meeting a few days later, the men reveal their plans to establish a casino, race track and “Family Entertainment Complex” on the outskirts of town. Katie’s father, Ethan, and several other ministers immediately form a coalition to oppose the proposal, which is supported by several members of the town council. As the town of Cotton Patch grows increasingly divided, tempers flare, loyalties are strained and broken, and violence ensues. As Katie reveals in her narrative, these events have permanent, devastating effects on her and her family.
When the Bluebonnets Come is a beautifully written, enchanting story. Dwyer tells it from the perspective of a young girl and adopts a very effective Texan voice throughout the narrative. His understanding and love of Texas culture are obvious and his portrayal of the small-town distrust of the big-city folks from Dallas rings true. Even though the story unfolds more or less chronologically, the reader initially may find the juxtaposition of some scenes startling. The lack of smooth transitions between chapters and the occasional disjointedness of the narrative enhance the book’s character as a series of remembrances rather than a formal, scholarly recounting of events. The relationships between all of the scenes and characters become clear throughout the book and the disjointed feeling dissipates after the first few chapters.
Dwyer develops his characters expertly. His heroes have flaws that have significant, sometimes tragic, consequences. They are far from perfect, yet they are always amiable. Some of the villains also are quite likeable; they are not simply evil rogues who merit only the reader’s contempt. Heroes and scoundrels alike are people with whom the reader can identify and sympathize. The plot and subplots flow together nicely and are cleverly integrated by the end of the book. The story is well paced and flows smoothly and evenly, like a gentle, lazy river. This is not a story that hurtles at breakneck, adrenaline-pumping speed. It is, rather, a story that invites the reader to quietly enter another time and place that has its own unique tempo.
When the Bluebonnets Come is appropriate for readers of any age from middle school through adulthood. There is no profanity or overt sexuality and the infrequent violence is rendered tastefully. Readers who enjoyed David Baldacci’s lovely story about rural Virginia, Wish You Well, will also enjoy this book.
—Reviewed by Evelyn Sears for Book Pleasures
If you liked Little House On the Prairie or The Waltons, you’ll love When the Bluebonnets Come.
When the Bluebonnets Come, by John J. Dwyer, is a caring, heartfelt book which allows readers to experience life and death through the eyes of a little child, a preacher’s daughter, Katie Shanahan of Cotton Patch, Texas.
John J. Dwyer’s writing style reads as though we are in the mind of a child out in the country thinking to her self and is rich with empathy; particularly notable on page 121 where he describes the credence of a child’s sadness. Little Katie has many questions about life and the answers are lived out through what she learns from others and the events in this small town. Dwyer masterfully succeeds in the believability-factor that sets the reader back in a time when ears hung tight on what was said on the radio and indiscretions were mostly talked through amongst family members and amongst a close-knit town’s people. As Katie’s values about religion evolve, so does the reader’s insight into little Katie: her rationale about people in her little town, what she thinks about a town’s upheaval, tornados, influences from the world outside the town, and even what she thinks about death.
Written in the tone as if it was a diary of sorts, When the Bluebonnets Come, by John J. Dwyer, takes readers through the growth of spirituality in a small town, relives its uproars and the eventual role of religion on a small town. With its strongest jolt of wisdom at the book’s end, When the Bluebonnets Come is packed with endearment as little Katie grows her memories into a lifelong understanding that the memories and stories of those we love, linger with us long after they pass.
Her great deal of respect for her father marks times in his life and creates anchors for her experiences in the thrill of sports, empathy in defeat, uncertainty, influences of the spoke word, influences from the Bible, and by story’s end lives to tell about it all to her son who learns what the fields of bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes meant to his Grandpa Ethan. Ethan Shanahan, her father, lived and died between the covers of this book, but by book’s end, readers get to know what he meant to little Katie and what she later relayed to her son. As she reflects on her life and what a field of bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes meant to her dad, she relinquishes this wisdom to her own son and, by that, embellishes the meaning of having the circle of life come full-circle.
With When the Bluebonnets Come, Dwyer gives (readers) back a taste of where Texas hospitality got its roots! When the Bluebonnets Come will remind readers of all ages that life is a nurturing process minded by simple relationships that, when looked back on, builds meaning in each others lives.
—Reviewed by Salvador SeBasco, for KNLE Radio, Austin, Texas
Author John J. Dwyer weaves a beautiful story of the human spirit in his latest fictional book, "When the Bluebonnets Come". Set in Cotton Patch, Texas the novel chronicles life from a young girl's perspective as she witnesses the clash between her father and big city business. Her accounts of his actions speak of devotion to his family, love of his fellow man, respect for the land, courage to stand with his dwindling community, helping those less fortunate, strength of character, and refusing to give up despite the difficulties. These events are destined to change the young girl's life and have a profound impact on her maturity as she grows up.
Written with a deep southern Texan vernacular, you can actually hear the twang as you read. When I first began reading the book, I honestly didn't think I'd like it. As a `Yankee', I'm not used to hearing, much less reading, an accent. However, I quickly got used to the dialect and immensely enjoyed getting to know these simple people of the land and empathizing with their plight. Dwyer does an impeccably beautiful job developing these rustic characters and bringing the story full circle when his young main character becomes an adult with children of her own.
Full of positive messages and appropriate for the whole family, "When the Bluebonnets Come" is perfect for anyone looking for a wholesome story of Christian values. Despite the hardships these characters face, the book is both touching and uplifting and can easily be followed by all ages.
John J. Dwyer is expressive, articulate, and truly brings a deep love of God into his novel. His descriptions of Texas and her landscape are crystal clear, even to the point of being able to smell the flowers, feel the cool evening air, and see the colors of the setting sun as you read. If you've been to Texas, it will make you ache to go back; if you've never been, it will spark a love and curiosity of this delightfully rural land.
"When the Bluebonnets Come" flowers with emotion. Its sweet fragrance is a mixture of love, courage, and sense of community that holds true even when the thorns of big business threaten to overgrow the area. John J. Dwyer grows his tale with the bright warmth of God's love while pruning the human spirit with just enough adversity to make it even stronger than. Simple, beautiful, and heartwarming.
—Reviewed by Vicki Landes for Reader Views
- "A wonderful novel. Full of beauty, goodness, and truth."
best-selling author of Blood of the Moon
- Click here to read the opening chapter of When the Bluebonnets Come
- Who you will meet in When the Bluebonnets Come
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