The Sparks Fly Upward
Nate Miller has spent his entire life in a small, rural community in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Living with his parents, sister, and grandparents, Nate has a deep respect for family, God, and nature. However, it’s the summer after high school graduation, and his life is about to change in a big way.
The first half of The Sparks Fly Upward is an honest, unflinching look inside the mind of a young man as he transitions from the world he’s always known to the world of sex, drugs, and freedom that is his 1970s college campus. The prose is descriptive and poignant, managing to make insightful comments about everything from tracking a wounded deer through the forest to experiencing alcohol poisoning for the first time. Correll mixes in references to Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement, imbuing the book with a definite sense of place and grounding the naïve but enduring Nate in his world.
Unfortunately, all of the detail and time that goes into developing Nate’s character arc are wasted when the unthinkable happens. Though there are signs leading up to the shift, the second half of the book is nothing like the first, and it feels disconnected, like you’re suddenly reading a very different story from the one you started. While the original plot is eventually resolved, it still feels unfinished. It’s almost as if Correll had a really strong coming-of-age story, but he then painted himself into a corner.
Despite the plot switch, the language remains strong, and you always feel centered in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which Correll describes with a reverent fullness that makes you feel like you’re there. There are a lot of things I love about this book, but I just can’t get past the shift in story that leaves me feeling lost and longing for the alternate ending.
|Page Count||312 pages|
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