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Rick Sowash . . . Heroes of Ohio
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A friend of mine has written a short novel that I think readers of my books might like. It's set in a small town in southern Ohio and has a humorous, folksy flavor while at the same time offering a child's perspective on a serious moral issue: the desire "to get even." The book is suitable for middle-school students and up (including adults). It has won some impressive awards in the young adult storytelling category, and has garnered some good reviews. It's called "Mocky's Revinge" -- and yes, that is the "correct" spelling of the title. In hardback only. -- Rick

Mocky's Revinge
by Mark Lehman

Mocky's RevingeIt’s September, 1985, and just-turned-eight-years-old Carrie Ann Watson is starting third grade in her small Ohio town. Her first assignment: “to write some intresting thing we did over the summer.” But Carrie also has a score to settle with her new stepfather Roy, and her assignment gives her an idea. She decides to tell the story, in her own idiosyncratic style, being sure to “stick to facks no matter what,” of her Uncle Mocky, a wry, gentle—and openly gay—French teacher who’s returned to his home town to reconcile with his estranged, dying father, and how Mocky vanquishes Roy’s spiteful bigotry. The result is a tart, hilarious, touching, and unpredictable foray into literary terrain unlike any other, as Carrie, the self-described “heroin of are story” proves that “revinge” is indeed sweet.

Mr. Lehman, who spent 32 years teaching Freshman Composition at the University of Cincinnati, used mistakes made by his students as one of the sources of the many comic misspellings in the book.

“You wouldn’t believe some of the things my students write,” says Lehman. “Drug attic. Com and since. Taking friends for granite. A full-proof investment. Balled head. Easlier. An uphauling mess. There are hundreds more—and these are from college students.”

Lehman jotted down his favorite whoppers, and over the years amassed a folder of them. Then, he explains, “I decided to invent a character and a story for which I could use the best of these linguistic inventions.”

The first (of many more) misspellings is right in the title. Why? Because the novel is supposedly written by an 8-year-old girl, who tells the story, in her own words, of her summer (the year is 1985) in her home town of Georgetown, Ohio, 50 miles east of Cincinnati. (In the book the town’s name is changed to Granton, Ohio.) The story centers on the girl’s growing friendship with her Uncle Mocky, a French teacher who’s returned home after many years away to reconcile with his dying father. Lehman’s familiarity with Georgetown and its people comes from his many visits with his wife’s family, who live in the Brown County town.

“Once I got going, the characters and story took on a life of their own,” says Lehman. What began as a country-folk comedy became darker and more complex, as the little girl has to confront prejudice against her uncle, and deal with her mother’s sleazy and mean-spirited boyfriend, as well as her grandfather’s death. The story has a bittersweet resolution, as Uncle Mocky gets a surprising “revinge” with help from his niece.

Cincinnatians might recognize scenes set in familiar locales. Uncle Mocky takes his niece to Union Terminal, and they spend a day at King’s Island. There’s also an excursion to the gorge at Yelow Springs, Ohio, and to Seven Caves, in the eastern part of the state.

Mocky’s Revinge has earned glowing praise from several of the country’s most important book review venues and been honored with several awards for storytelling for young adults. It was named “Outstanding Story Teller of the Year” in the 2007 Independent Publishers (“IPPY”) Awards Competition, and Finalist in the “Young Adult Fiction” category of the 2007 Indie Excellence Awards for books published by small and independent presses. The book was also selected by the Cincinnati Public Library for its April 2006 “Beyond the Bestsellers” recommended reading, which lauded the novel as “a story not to be missed.”

125 pages
5.75" x 8.75" hardcover




Hear an interview with the author by WVXU’s Katie Orr

“A folksy debut poignantly and humorously renders the vernacular of small-town Ohio…It may be slender, but this short ‘novelette’ conveys a full-fleshed humanity, thanks to the author’s savory use of language.”
—Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005

“Imagine cartoonist Lynda Barry rewriting Tobacco Road…Lehman does a charming job of presenting Carrie, whose sister is a ‘pre-Madonna’ and whose stepfather ‘reeks havick where ever he goes.’”
—Publishers Weekly, January 2, 2006

“The pen, albeit a youthful, relatively unlettered one, still proves mightier than the sword in Lehman's fiction debut written from the perspective, complete with misunderstandings, partial understandings (shot through with astonishing insights), and misspellings, of eight-year-old Carrie in small-town southern Ohio.”
—Whitney Scott, ALA Booklist, February 1, 2006

“Novelette with heart: The reader…will find both inventive charm in the narrative and nobility in Mocky's ‘revinge,’ for when it comes, it is sweet.”
—Barbara McIntyre, Akron Beacon-Journal, January 29, 2006

“Endearing…reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird…in its innocent wisdom.”
—Kate Fox, Ohioana Quarterly, Spring 2006

“…intriguing and fun story told from the perspective of an eight year old seeking to fulfill revenge upon her stepfather...hilarious tale that will encourage the reader to never put it down from first page to last.”
—Midwest Book Review, March 2006

“A little gem…Lehman’s characters inhabit a universe that at once is real but is his unique creation. Lehman skillfully gives them life by having them all act out of self interest and as real people.”
—Stanley Bard, The American Israelite, March 23, 2006

“A well-constructed drama…combining stylistic thrills with transparent readability. Grade: A”
—Cedric Rose, Cincinnati City Beat, March 1, 2006






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