Book Review: Doxology by Brian Holers. Plus, $450 in Amazon Gift Cards & a Kindle Fire up for Grabs!

In Brain Holers’ novel, Doxology, Vernon Davidson is so used to his isolation from family and his faith that he hardly notices how disconnected he has become from his last living brother until Leonard is facing death.  Now that his brother lies in a hospital bed he’ll never leave, Vernon realizes all that he could have shared with Leonard was forfeited when he retreated into his own pain and suffering.  Though he loves his brother, Vernon is of the generation that feels it’s not necessary or perhaps manly to say it or show it.  Both men begin to understand the depth of their brotherly love when Leonard asks Vernon to bring his sons home before he dies.

Jody is the first nephew Vernon contacts, and the uncle leaves it to him to find and persuade his younger brother, Scooter, to see his father before it is too late.  Jody’s been in the position of standing as protector of his younger brother, as long as he can remember.  Of fixing things and situations for Scooter.  And he considers himself an abject failure in that effort.

Scooter’s smarter, more talented and better looking than his older brother, everything coming so easily to him that he never had to make an effort.  He’s always been a bit disconnected from life, his interest focused on anything except what’s happening around him.  This distance extends to his family, with Scooter playing observer to their lives together, rather than forging any real connection.  He moves through life following some rhythm heard only by him, leaving Jody to deal with the consequences of his brother’s actions.  The younger brother has no interest in reuniting with the father he so terribly disappointed.  Living within driving distance of his father, he’s never made an effort to reconnect. 

Jody persuades Scooter to return to his hometown, but that visit lasts only long enough to spend a few minutes with his father before he runs away again.  Scooter’s never found what he needs in his own family and he has no wish to search for it in his birthplace.  He prefers to continue hiding from life within the community he’s taken up with, still looking for a replacement for the mother he lost at birth.

Vernon finds in the death journey of his brother, Leonard, a reminder of all his family members who have passed on, especially his son Billy, and his and Leonard’s older brother Pearl.  As Leonard’s life runs out,Vernon’s memories replay how he and his brothers received the emotional wounds that shaped both their lives.  If he’s never stopped to take a good look at the cruelty his father practiced against his brothers in the name of fatherly responsibility, he’s forced to face it now and to question the circumstances that shaped his own father’s life.  He begins to see fully the thread that connects each of the remaining men in his family with the men who came before.

Vernon makes an effort to step off his self-destructive path long enough to grant his brother’s wish, and to be there for his nephews.  Soon, however, he falls back into his personal nightmare of drinking, showing his contempt for the God who took his son through his naked taunting of the neighboring church community.  The vile concoction he doses his emotional pain with is more punishment to his physical body than pleasure or release from his loss.

Vernon and Jody shoulder the worries and care of seeing their brother and father to his final rest.  In the process, they each find a new strength in supporting each other.  While both dread their coming loss, they find a deeper relationship built on understanding the paths their lives have taken.

Somehow, letting Leonard go has opened Vernon’s heart to forgive God for the losses and pain in his own life.  And in the goodbyes between the older men, Jody learns family secrets that change his perspective of both men.

Each of Holer’s characters is lost in recriminations for past sins and failures.  Each man is attempting to fill a hole in his life, having no idea where to seek answers.  Each has suffered horrible loss and allowed that loss to shape who they have become.  Only two of them take a hard look at where they have been and where they want to be, and take the first painful steps into that place.

The author shapes his characters with love and respect.  In writing of the Southern world in which these men reside, he avoids the use of dialect.  Instead, he skillfully builds the cadence of life particular to the rural South with words pictures of that slower lifestyle. His characters meander through the telling of slow, roundabout tales, always interrupted with side forays to detail the family connections of everyone in that story.  Friends, as well as strangers, visit through the open window of dusty pickups, lean on a broom or shovel throughout a conversation because the work will still be there after all the local news is exchanged.  The reader longs to be sipping the sweet iced tea in the afternoon heat, to smell the smoke from the local barbeque pit before diving into a plate of tender ribs, or to taste the yeasty beer or sharp slide of whiskey across the tongue after the sun goes down.

Brian Holer says he has written a Christian novel.  He has actually written a novel for everyone who has suffered heartbreak and loss and forged a painful path through it to the light.  And for everyone still hoping that path exists.


As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Doxology eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Doxology by Brian Holers. Plus, $450 in Amazon Gift Cards & a Kindle Fire up for Grabs!

  1. Suzanne, thanks so much for your thoughtful, insightful review of Doxology. It has been such a joy for me to read reviews and to get a better sense of some of the message readers take from my book, in some cases messages I didn’t even know were there ! Also your take on Peterson leaning on his broom particularly touched me–yes, there will be plenty more work to do when his story is finished, and what’s the hurry anyway? This is so great and means so much to me.

  2. Brian, I’m glad to have had the opportunity to read Doxology and to take part in your blog tour. There’ll be more posts on Wednesday and Friday to share your book with readers. Best wishes for an exciting blog tour and continuing great success with Doxology.

  3. Great review, Suzanne! You’ve done a phenomenal job outlining the story, the themes, and the feelings it stirs up in the reader. Would you kindly cross-post this stunning review to Amazon and GoodReads to help up exposure for the wonderfully friendly author?

    Thanks for being a part of this tour,

    1. Being the youngest of three girls, my dad has a scepial relationship with each of us. But I’m just like him, in just about every way. We have the same anxieties, the same thought process, the same mild recklessness and love of writing and reading. But because we’re so similar we have the same tendency to say the mean things, to know where to strike to hurt and ultimately our relationship can fluctuate from really good to really bad because of it. When I was young, there would be screaming matches where he couldn’t handle my OCD and my anxiety and sometimes even my crying. Now that I’m older, though we’ve deviated from a typical father-daughter relationship to being more friends, those fights are still always in the back of my mind and ultimately dictate how I interact with him. We’re bonding right now because I’m learning to ride a motorcycle and just bought my first one on Monday he rode a similar bike when I was young, about 12-13, and I used to ride on the back with him. One time, he rode his bike up on the lawn of our high school because the principal had done something unfair regarding my sister, and he was the big scary man with a motorcycle defending his daughters’ honor. I’m hoping it will continue to bring us together, but it’s also caused some issues in my family because my mother feels left out, and feels we’re rushing into the project too quickly. I sort of feel like we’re on the same side, but I know from past experiences that if tempers flare, the camaraderie could fail just as quickly. My biggest wish for the future of my father and I’s relationship is that we learn compromise, and that I learn to let go of the past and acknowledge that we’ve both changed and grown in different ways so that I don’t feel so cautious when I talk to my dad. I know that we have so many things in common that it should be bringing us together, not holding us at arm’s length.

  4. I can remember when my youegnr brother was born. I couldn’t wait until he was big enough to play with me. Never happened. He just wasn’t interested in the things I liked and I was bored by the things he liked. This pattern continued on through my school years, until I moved away to build my own life. But I would always think of my little brother with a certain melancholy, of the chance we had missed for a relationship so many would give their left nut for (a colloquial expression I just couldn’t resist). I’m now fifty and have been in the same small town as my brother for over 20 years. He has never come to my home just to visit and spend time with me, and I don’t think it will ever change. He doesn’t reciprocate my actions and he never acts on his own. This, when we have actually found things we share a passion for. Such a terrible thing, really.

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