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"Canelands" Book Review & Giveaway: A Journey of Love, Grief, and Compassion

Welcome to our review of "Canelands" by Gerry Harlan Brown. This touching story, provided by WordCrafts Press for our honest review, explores themes of love and loss through the journey of a preacher and his companions. To celebrate this poignant narrative, we’re offering a book giveaway to our readers. Join us as we dive into this heartfelt tale and share your thoughts for a chance to win a copy of this moving book.

Book Canelands by Gerry Harlan Brown

Book Banner of Canelands

About the book:

Book Canelands

Title: Canelands

Author: Gerry Harlan Brown

Publisher: WordCrafts Press

Pub. Date: February 16, 2024

Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Pages: ‎ 416 pages

Buy Links: Amazon, Goodreads

Book Blurb:

How far would you go if you heard the voice of God?

"Caneland" follows the exploits of a rural Kentucky preacher who believes God has called him on a quest to pray for the children of the world, even if it means he has to walk from here to Kingdom Come after the call. Alternately humorous and heartbreaking, this tale serves as a parable of sorts, intertwining the lives of small-town church folk, big-city hustlers, country music legends, and nefarious politicians, all with a single-minded mission of simply praying for the least of these.

"I was angry beyond measure; angrier than I have ever been in my life," Paul declared. "But instead of asking the Lord to remove the scales from the eyes of those responsible, to show them the error of their ways, I begged Him to damn them all. I screamed at Him to burn them in hell. I cursed. I ranted and raved. I broke things. The greatest thing I broke was Jennie's heart; a heart that has scarcely had a chance to heal."

A single hot tear broke from the corner of the preacher's right eye, challenging his ability to keep his composure. "I spent Friday night wandering in the wilderness, stumbling through the canelands down from our house, slipping and sliding and sometimes falling along the banks of the creek. When the first rays of dawn cut through, I was on my knees, worn out and burnt out. I tried to pray, the words would not come. Finally, I said, 'I am Yours, Father. Use me.'

"In that very instant I heard a voice speaking to my heart as when I was called to preach. My friends, the Lord has called me again. I am to go to Brownsville, Texas, to pray for the children. He has given me only one other requirement for this journey. I am to walk all the way there from here in Kentucky."


My Review


"Canelands" by Gerry Harlan Brown is an emotional and inspiring journey that explores the themes of love, loss, and compassion. This compelling narrative follows the journey of Paul, a preacher from Bowling Green, Kentucky, who is grieving the tragic loss of his 5-year-old daughter, Sarah. This profound loss not only shakes Paul to his core but also affects his wife, Jennie, as they both struggle to find meaning in their overwhelming grief.

One night, Paul and Jennie see a news report about a young girl from Guatemala, forcibly separated from her family while attempting to enter the United States, and now detained in a Texas border prison. The sight of this helpless child stirs something within Paul, reminding him of his own lost daughter. It is this powerful moment of empathy that sets the stage for the central premise of the story: a call to action that propels Paul on a remarkable journey.

Paul receives a sign from God to undertake a pilgrimage from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Brownsville, Texas. The journey is long and fraught with challenges, but he is not alone. Joining him on this arduous journey are Cami and Tick, two young adults from his parish. Cami is tasked with documenting their adventure, capturing the stories, struggles, and people they encounter along the way. Through these characters, Brown effectively conveys the essence of humanity and the power of community.

As Paul, Cami, and Tick make their way across the country, they meet various individuals whose lives intersect with their own in meaningful ways. Each encounter serves to highlight the underlying themes of the book: love, hope, and the human capacity for compassion. These themes are deeply rooted in Christian teachings, with a focus on the parable of the Good Samaritan and the concept of loving one's neighbor.

Brown's writing is evocative, drawing the reader into the emotional journey of the characters. The depiction of grief and loss is raw and authentic, allowing the reader to connect with the characters on a profound level. The story is infused with hope, even in the face of adversity, reminding us that love and compassion can bridge any divide.

The road trip format provides a unique perspective on the landscape of America, with vivid descriptions of the places and people along the way. This backdrop adds depth to the story, emphasizing the diverse nature of the country and the varied struggles faced by those living within its borders.

One of the most remarkable aspects of "Canelands" is its ability to evoke emotion. From the very first page, Brown creates a sense of empathy that resonates throughout the book. The tears flow freely as Paul and Jennie navigate their grief and as the journey reveals the stories of others who have suffered and found strength in each other.

Overall, "Canelands" is a heartwarming and poignant story that resonates with readers on many levels. Its themes of love, loss, and compassion are timeless, and the journey undertaken by Paul and his companions is one of hope and redemption. The book serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always light to guide us forward and that sometimes, the best way to heal is by reaching out to others and walking the path together.

If you're in search of a book that will move you to tears while also inspiring you to embrace love and compassion, "Canelands" by Gerry Harlan Brown is an excellent choice. This touching story will stay with you long after you've turned the last page, reminding you of the enduring power of love and the beauty of human connections.

Thank you, Gerry, for the book and my honest review. I so enjoyed this book!


About Gerry Harlan Brown:

author of Canelands
Gerry Harlan Brown

Gerry Harlan Brown has lived most of his life in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area. Stints at a factory, a farm, and painting houses have been mixed in with periods as a railroaded, a volunteer community crisis counselor, and a professional fire chief. Along the way, he acquired an Associate of Arts degree and completed multiple courses in leadership at the University of Virginia and the National Fire Academy. He credits his 29 years in the fire service for providing the greatest influence on his writing style. For it was by encountering real people from all walks of life, at their best and bravest, to their most devastate and petty, that allowed him to wrestle monsters, including - as ludicrous as it may seem - squirrels, white and otherwise.

Many of the life lessons Gerry learned along the way have been published in firefighting journals. Canelands is his third novel followed by Ring the Bell, and his debut novel White Squirrels & Other Monsters, which debuted top 50 on's hot new release chart in the Southern Fiction category.

You can find Gerry at and follow him on Facebook.

Enter the giveaway:

One (1) signed hardback of "Canelands" by Gerry Harlan Brown and a bookmark. USA only. Ends April 30, 2024, at midnight EST.


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