Pardon me a brief moment to (as professionally as possible) fangirl while welcoming today’s guest to the blog! I belted out several Cindy Morgan songs – albeit, woefully off key – while getting ready in the morning during high school or while doing homework in the evening. And I still know all the words to How Could I Ask for More (which i am currently humming to myself). BUT I will keep my fangirling to a minimum because, today, Cindy Morgan is here to talk about her debut novel, The Year of Jubilee!
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE by Cindy Morgan
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Southern Fiction
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2023
The Year of Jubilee is a lyrical coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of the turbulent South in the early 1960s.
The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices even of those she loves the most.
From gifted songwriter Cindy Morgan comes this lyrical, tender tale of a girl standing at the threshold of adulthood, learning the depths of the human heart and the bonds of family that bend, break, and bind together over and over again.
affiliate links used
when the other shoe drops
by Cindy Morgan, author of The Year of Jubilee
Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.
—William Goldman, The Princess Bride
When I was eight years old, my father left me in the care of my older sister for the evening. He was working late and my mother was away visiting her mother in another state. My sister Sam was sixteen, and equal parts nurturer and torturer. I don’t want to bore you with the babysitting-your-sibling details, but in the end, as she was teasing me relentlessly, I let out a word of anger that to my eight-year-old memory was a substitute swear, but to her keen ears was a full-blown, four-letter no-no. Nothing could have pleased her more. “Wait till Dad gets home. I’m telling him exactly what you said!” she sang out with unabashed joy. So I waited in agony, feeling like a victim of some great injustice. It was her word against mine. My stomach lurched. I was filled with dread and guilt dangled above my head like a size twelve penny loafer.
When my dad arrived home and my sister gave the report, I could see the tension playing on his face as he tried to decide which one of us to believe. I was his baby. Up to this point, he had never spanked me. Sam was a fireball and in the drama of her teen years. My elementary school mess-ups easily flew below the radar. But let’s face it, it does anyone’s heart good to see a goody-two-shoes finally get what is coming to them. I stood looking up at him in his mechanic’s shirt, weary from his long day at work. My eyes pleaded, “She’s lying. I said darn.”
In the end, he made the choice to give me a “just in case” spanking. It was controlled and short-lived—causing a few tears to slide down my red cheeks, as I felt the greatest injury to my pride over losing the title of “the easy child.” My sister, on the other hand, was beaming.
But after it was over, relief washed over me. The penny loafer had dropped and the crash missed my head by ten feet and fell with a soft thud. My dad came back to check on me and told me in a gentle voice that he had hated spanking me, and that he loved me. I believed him.
In boarding or rooming houses of the early 1900s in cities like New York and Chicago, residents crowded into multiple tiny rooms with paper-thin walls, where one tenant’s bedroom was always directly underneath another. You could hear people come in from a night shift or a night out, and the thud of the first shoe hitting the floor would wake all of those sleeping on the floor below. The residents would grumble up to the offender, trying to return to the blessed few hours of sleep they could get. They waited for the other shoe to drop so they could return to their dreams.
Everyone and everything has an origin story. I love origin stories, maybe because they give context and add color to the faded black-and-white assumptions of people and situations we don’t fully understand.
Six years before my sister Sam babysat me, my parents were wading through the misery of taking my brother Samuel, who was four years old, to be treated for a rare and aggressive cancer. There was very little the doctors could do. Every treatment was painful, leaving him without an appetite and confused about what was happening. Less than a year later, after the doctors and faith healers had come and gone, after my parents had offered up innumerable prayers and deal-makings with God, God answered—and the answer was no.
Samuel died a week before his fifth birthday, when I was three and a half years old. The opening scene of The Year of Jubilee is based on my first memory as a child: seeing Samuel through the window, from the outside of his hospital room, unable to go inside the ICU. The impossible and agonizing waiting my parents had endured had come to an end. But what happens in the aftermath? When the other shoe drops, and the worst thing has happened, how do you survive?
When one has too great a dread of what is impending, one feels some relief when the trouble has come.
After Samuel died, my father became hyper-aware of our safety, while my mother became hyper-religious. The pain of the loss was easier for her to bear under the sweet, buttery frosting of the “name it and claim it” charismatic catch phrases during the boom of popular TV evangelists in those days. While long hours of work offered some distraction for my dad, dread and anxiety seeped down into the soft tissue of his DNA, and in turn, it seeped down into ours. Into mine. The dark cloud hung right above my head, and it was full of fear and rain and shoes of all colors and sizes, ready to drop in a downpour.
I remember reaching a moment in my twenties, when I had a near nervous breakdown. This DNA of dread and fear had blossomed into something wholly unmanageable. My guitarist and close friend Drew came to see me on one of my worst days. He coaxed me out of my duplex, where I had been hiding away for days. We sat in the mild sunshine of a fall day and he told me the only way to get to the other side of this fear was to face it, dig to the bottom of it, and to let a therapist, trusted friends, and close family walk beside me as I did. He also told me to remember the times in my life when God had carried me through seemingly impossible challenges. I was still standing. It was a conversation that changed my life.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body….” Matthew 6:25, NIV
According to a a research project done by Penn State University, only about 8% of the things people worry about ever come true. One out of 10 things we stress about are actually a threat.
The truth is that every life is a landscape of boredom, impending bad news that turns out to be nothing, or bad news and circumstances that we maneuver our way through. Oh, and a few brief mountaintop moments. We were not created to survive any of this alone. Isolation is never going to work. We must invite community and be community for others. When we let those we love bear the burden with us, and we in turn do that for others, suddenly we sleep better at night, and nothing seems impossible or insurmountable, like it does when we try to do it on our own.
Two important people in my community are my big sister Sam (one of my heroes) and my friend Val, who lives daily with MS. She battles it with amazing doctors, medication, diet, exercise, a positive outlook, and an unflinching trust in God. We try to remind one another that God is the author and finisher of our lives.
Nothing is more frightening than a fear you cannot name.
Therapists say one of the best ways to process trauma and anxiety is to normalize it. Take time to understand your own origin story—how that dreaded shoe started hanging around in the first place. Instead of letting those shoes hang over your head, pull them down and take a good look at them.
I can still feel like that eight-year-old girl, never wanting to disappoint anyone. Each day I try to surrender it to God. Some days, peace reigns supreme and I throw those shoes of dread out the back door. Other days, I struggle.
I just keep trying to walk it out, one shoeless step at a time.
Singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan is a two-time Grammy nominee, a thirteen-time Dove winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Songwriter of the Year trophy. An East Tennessee native, her evocative melodies and lyrics have mined the depths of life and love both in her own recording and through songwriting for noteworthy artists around the globe, including Vince Gill, India.Arie, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Sandra McCracken, and Glen Campbell. Cindy is the author of two works of adult nonfiction—the memoir How Could I Ask for More: Stories of Blessings, Battles and Beauty (Worthy Inspired, 2015) and Barefoot on Barbed Wire: A Journey Out of Fear into Freedom (Harvest House Publishers, 2001)—and of the children’s picture book Dance Me, Daddy (ZonderKidz, 2009). The Year of Jubilee is her debut novel.
Cindy is a cocreator of the charitable Hymns for Hunger Tour, which has raised awareness and resources for hunger relief organizations across the globe. Cindy has two daughters and splits her time between a small town near Nashville and Holly Springs, North Carolina, with her husband, Jonathan. For more information visit cindymorganmusic.com.
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Year of Jubilee by Cindy Morgan? What spoke to you most from Cindy’s beautiful post?