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Mary Calhoun Brown

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There Are No Words
by Mary Calhoun Brown   

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Books by Mary Calhoun Brown
· Pride & Prejudice With A Side Of Grits
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Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Lucky Press ISBN-10:  97809776300 Type: 


Copyright:  Feb. 1, 2010 ISBN-13:  9780977630028

Sometimes friendship can be found in the most unlikely places.

Mary Calhoun Brown
Mary Calhoun Brown

Jaxon MacKenzie, a mute, yet secretly literate, 12-year-old girl, discovers a faded newspaper article documenting the greatest train wreck in American history—an event that claimed the life of her grandfather’s best friend, Oliver Pack. That night Jaxon is whisked through an old painting in her grandparents’ parlor, back to July 1918 in an attempt to prevent the accident. Miraculously, she finds herself able to speak for the first time.

Jaxon meets three friends: Sara Hale, Dewey MacKenzie, and Oliver. Soon Jaxon realizes her mission in this world of horse-drawn carts and prejudice is to save Oliver from dying aboard one of the ill-fated passenger cars, filled with young black men on their way to Nashville to work making gun powder for the war effort. With the government’s takeover of the railways during World War I, and a calamity of human error, the train cannot be stopped from its fate, and the responsibility of saving Oliver Pack is planted firmly on the shoulders of this remarkable young lady.

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Reader Reviews for "There Are No Words"

Reviewed by Susan Pettrone 2/3/2010
There are no words

By: Susan Pettrone

Jaxton MacKenzie is a mute. She lives in a small town with her grandparents, her mother having left her there under the auspices of not being able to care for her or perhaps not caring for a daughter who is mute. But not is all that it seems with Jaxton, she is a literate child, in fact, she doesn't even remember NOT knowing how to read. She listens intently to those around her who usually ignore her as if she weren't there except for her grandparents Sarah and Dewey MacKenzie.

Jaxton is exceptionally attached to her Grandfather, Dewey MacKenzie. There is a bond between them that cannot be denied and it grows even deeper as her grandfather tells her tales of his childhood. Though most of the tales are happy ones, one in particular, is especially sad and touches Jaxton's heart. It is the day her grandfather's best friend Oliver Pack was saved and 121 persons killed with 57 injured in one of the worst train collisions in history. Though Oliver was a negro, and his friendship with Dewey was frowned upon by many, it was a deep sincere friendship and Dewey never forgot the day his friend died with others on their way to word at a gunpowder plant.

Jaxton spends much of her day wandering, humming to herself or just absorbing the world around her. One day as she lay on the couch looking at a painting her uncle had painted, she thinks she sees movement. But that can't be! Paintings can't move. One night though, Jaxton cannot sleep and she creeps downstairs to look at her uncles painting that she likes so well. But the painting has changed. Not only is the sky a deeper blue but there is a girl in the painting who says, "Come with us, we've been waiting for you." reaches out her hand and Jaxton steps into the painting and into another time altogether.

Jaxton finds herself thrust back into time to the era where Sarah, Dewey and Oliver spend their days in 1918 enjoying each others company. But that is not the best part of the travel Jaxton has made. She finds she can speak since stepping through the painting. She is thrilled to be able to communicate with her new friends and though she enjoys their time together, she is troubled with knowledge that is just beyond her grasp of comprehending. She knows something is going to happen but she hasn't quite put the pieces together yet.

As time goes on, the day comes when Oliver and his cousin George Scott board the train to go to the gunpowder plant to work. Jaxton helps Sarah with a heavy heart prepare sandwiches for them, all the time, knowing that if they board that train, they will die in the crash. Saying Good-bye to Oliver and George, it suddenly comes to Jaxton that this is the very train that Oliver will die in, that Dewey is her grandfather and Sarah her Grandmother. She knows she cannot let Oliver die, so she makes her way onto the train to convince him to leave before it is too late. As she is a white girl, she makes quite a scene when she goes through the all black cars. As these things always do, the children are caught by Mr. Corbitt who asks for their tickets, stalling for time, they spy a grassy place alongside the track and they jump. But what about Oliver? They can't leave him after all they've been through.

Jaxton and Dewey begin to run as though their lives depended upon it. But it isn't their lives, it is the life of their friend Oliver. Dewey reaches the train first but is hurt trying to grab hold of the back of the train and Jaxton takes over the lead, reaching the back of the train only to see Oliver reach out his hand to her to help her aboard. Instead, Jaxton grabs Olliver and with a mighty heave, pulls him from the train. Moments later, they hear the sound of a mighty crash and they know instinctively there has been a crash. They rush to the wreck and begin to help as best they can. But it is a disaster like none they have ever seen. The wooden cars which housed the negroes are all but gone. Blood and gore are everywhere and there seems as though there will be no one left alive. Mr. Corbitt was found amongst the rubble and declared dead, only to revive hours later on the morticians table. It was a miracle and though he later lost his leg, he commented, "Better than losing' my life!"

This book is one that makes the reader look at lives of others I a whole different light while it adds a bit of whimsy and “what if” to round it out. I suggest this book for readers of all ages, and especially those who want a more positive book about autism than they have previously read. It is a “keeper” in every sense of the word.

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