Thursday, December 8, 2011

Slouching Towards Bellingham by Anneke Campbell: Review & Book Spotlight

I am excited to share this book with you as it is the kind of read that is perfect in-between some of the heavier reading I have been doing. Anneke Campbell is a unique author, and my thanks go out to Pump Up Your Book for allowing me to showcase her today on the blog.

About the Novel:

When a pregnant girl named Mary waddles into Bellingham, Indiana, she also wanders right into the hearts of its townspeople. Not to mention their imaginations: Because Mary’s a virgin!

Joe the postman is the first to spot her, struggling bedraggled and dirty down the road into town. He introduces her to Violet, the waitress at his favorite diner, who has her own reasons to be kind. Next thing you know their friend Dr. Bob’s examined her and proclaimed her a virgin.

And then the whole world wants a piece of her.

News stories are written; websites built; roving gangs of paparazzi set in motion.  Throughout it all, Mary maintains sacred silence.  Juggling a townful of characters, each with his or her own agenda, not a single one selfless or blameless, Campbell makes Bellingham come alive as she shows how each is changed by the apparent miracle.

This good-natured tale about an extraordinary event in an ordinary town pulls off the rare trick of being satirical, funny, and very, very real without ever sinking into the cynical. A great gift for anyone who reads—especially if they’re a mom. 

Book Excerpt:

Chapter 1: 

What was that up ahead, slouching towards Bellingham, shaped roughly like a blue egg on matchsticks? Joe Dupree pushed his glasses up on his nose, shifted the mailbag onto his other shoulder, and picked up his pace. His right hip socket talked back at him louder than usual, which was to be expected in this weather, in the damp and threat of more snow. Could the egg be causing the footprints he’d been following, foot long and humanoid, as if from a creature dropped by a flying saucer, or, judging by the wheel tracks, let out of a truck on old Route 37?

Joe turned and walked up the first driveway of the Sycamore Hills Subdivision. He rang the bell and while he waited for a response, peered back over his shoulder, but his vision blurred the blue, and there flashed in his mind’s eye the prescription for new bifocals sitting on the mantel at home three months already. Because of his slow ways, here he couldn’t tell what he was seeing between the bare trees and bungalows. Something was up, this he knew from his internal weather, from an edge of alertness not caused by a thermos full of java.

Not that Joe was a superstitious man. He would be the first to tell you, his were sore but realistic bones. At work this morning, when the office manager recited the newest evidence of government cover-ups, with others throwing in their conspiracy theories, Joe said nothing. People believed what they wanted to believe, and all the talk could not assuage the underlying fear of more lay-offs and wage cuts, of a collapsing economy, of terrorism or natural disasters heading their way. It must be reassuring to believe that some devious persons were in control. A few of the other carriers could stick around for hours, deriving comfort from mouthing off, but he preferred to be out here under the open expanse of grey, with the quiet broken only by the rush of cars and barking of dogs.

About the Author:

Anneke Campbell has worked as a midwife, nurse, masseuse, prenatal yoga teacher, college teacher of English, and writer in a number of genres. She has won awards for poetry, for one piece of journalism and one television script. She writes and co-produces videos for environmental and social justice organizations, and co-wrote a manual for activists, “Be The Change: How To Get What You Want in Your Community.” In 2010 she edited an anthology on women’s leadership: “Moonrise: The Power of Women Leading from the Heart.” She is currently a doctoral student at the California Institute for Integral Studies. An earlier version of her novel Slouching Towards Bellingham appeared in print in 2004, under the title Mary of Bellingham.

You can visit her on Twitter at and FACEBOOK.

My Thoughts:

Well, this is one way to tell the story of the birth of Jesus, that's for sure.  I do have to admit that I am really getting into Christian literature so this book was an exciting find for me!

Anneke Campbell is a great storyteller, who takes this traditional story and adds twists and turns that bring it into the 21st century with ease.  Upon first learning what it was about, I expected it to be a little bit like that movie "Where the Heart Is" because of the young pregnant girl moving into a new place, but this book really claims its own place outside of some of the other traditional stories.

I really do think this is a neat idea, taking a classic scenario that we all know, and bringing it into modern times with modern characters and a modern setting.  I thought this was very creative of Anneke to take on this challenge and she really did take it to another level.  No story will ever take the place of Mary, Joesph, and baby Jesus, but this novel is an interesting take on it for sure!

I was initially confused because on Goodreads the title of this is O Little Town of Bellingham and the copy I received was Slouching Toward Bellingham - I am not sure where the title change comes from?

There is some language in this novel that may or may not be offensive depending on the reader, and while I am not a fan of bad language in literature, I do not count that as a negative against this book.

I would also add that I think the cover of books really is its first impression and I think this cover might turn off some readers - something with a more realistic main character and scene might add to the attractiveness I am sure the author wants.


  1. Hi, Lindsay--thanks for the nice review. I'm Anneke's publisher and think her book's great too! Just wanted to let you know we changed the title because we thought the old one was too clunky and we wanted a new cover. We thought the pregnant girl in the small town was fresh and realistic, but we're always happy to listen to our readers--why did you find it a turnoff?

  2. Thanks Ramblini! I would just offer that I am not generally a fan of computerized covers, I like real people and I think a lot could be achieved if the cover included a picture of a read girl with a telling expression on her face. I am more likely to pick up a more realistic cover versus something that is not. I imagine a young girl, holding her belly up against the front door of a building, or something along those lines. I also think coloring is important and people and the seriousness of the situation calls for darker colors.

    Please know that I am no expert, I am just a reader - but a reader who buys books and many times just for how the cover looks! I would be happy to talk with you further if you're interested!

  3. Thanks for th feedback, Lindsay--funny--one of our original cover ideas was very much what you suggested, but we wanted a much lighter, brighter approach--we thought darker colors were wrong for such an uplifting book. Tell you what, though--I'm going to ask some FaceBook groups what they think of the cover.

  4. Thanks for the wonderful review, Lindsay! I'm kinda on your side about this. I'm not a fan of computerized covers either. But the review on the storyline was terrific! Thank you so much!