By Jon Correll
Inkwater Press, $16.95, 303 pages
The Sparks Fly Upward by Jon Correll is a novel based in 1970’s North Carolina. The novel chronicles the life of Nate Miller, a young man first venturing into the world of adulthood, full of love, heartache and choices.
The novel starts slowly, following Nate through graduation and the summer before everything changes. We see him face morally-compromising choices and we see him falling in love with the very beautiful Becky. There is an underlying dark current, however, that runs through Nate’s veins like hot iron. A truth he’s faced all of his life, Nate struggles to keep this dark current under control as he enters a world where he is no longer protected under the safety of his family’s wings.
Jon Correll has written a coming-of-age story that differs from other stories in the genre. Based in 1970’s North Carolina, the world Correll portrays is different from the Northwest. But there are a few similarities which can make it hard to follow at times. However, Correll introduces you to a beautiful way of living that not only tells you a story, but teaches you about a new culture that may be unfamiliar. The author gently touches on more sensitive topics such as racism in the South and 1970’s America. He writes about how the views of people of the 70s was changing and differing from their families. Correll’s writing style is brusque and true, leaving little room for the reader to imagine what might be going through Nate’s thoughts throughout the events of his life.
Overall, the novel was a pleasantly unexpected read that kept me guessing until the end. If you enjoy coming-of-age stories with a twist, The Sparks Fly Upward is a novel for you.
Reviewed by Taylor Pittman