Published by HarperCollins on May 19 2015
Genres: drama, humor
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Powell's • Indiebound
I have a soft spot for books that take place in small towns. If the town is full of crazy characters in crazy situations, all the better.
When Harley Jackson walks into his barn on Christmas Eve he finds a calf with a likeness of Jesus Christ on it’s side. Knowing the storm of holy-rollers that would descend on his farm, he tries to keep it quiet while he figures out what he going to do. Word gets out when the calf escapes and the nosy mail-lady gets a gander.
As the pilgrims (and the Hollywood talent agent) move onto the farm, there are other things afoot in this small town: a failed professor stashing used oil in the town’s old water tower, a budding romance forming over talk of cows and sales barns, and a industrious businessman running into a wall where his new business ventures are concerned.
There is a lot more to this story that a cow with Jesus in it’s fur. It is charming and irreverent and is best read under a shade tree with a glass of lemonade and the attitude that you are going to let crazy wash over you.
Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”
Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door, and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and raise enough money to keep his land—and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?
Harley goes all in, cutting a deal with a major Hollywood agent that transforms his little farm into an international spiritual theme park—think Lourdes, only with cheese curds and t-shirts. Soon, Harley has lots of money . . . and more trouble than he ever dreamed.