Flabbergasted Captivates

New Revell novelist Ray Blackston has drawn from personal experience in creating his award-winning first novel, Flabbergasted (0800718372, $22.99, hardcover), which released this month to wide critical acclaim. The novel, in fact, reads like it is based on true experience as single stockbroker, Jay Jarvis moves from one adventure in singles dating to another as he pursues the whimsical missionary, Allie.
Jay meets a group of quirky singles at the local Presbyterian church who, over the course of the book change his perceptions of church and of God, culminating in events that leave Jay ‘flabbergasted.’ Along the way, Jarvis accepts Christ in a manner that is humorous, poignant, and low key.
In addition to Allie, the supporting cast of off-beat singles includes Allie’s best friend Darcy, Darcy’s secret romantic interest Steve, Nancy and the Numericals, surfer-dude Ransom and Bible-thumping Stanley.
What makes this novel so downright intriguing is how Blackston mixes doses of such trivial pursuits as picking a church for its singles rating, buying and selling stocks, and singles beach trips, stirs in his mix of quirky characters, and then weaves in poetry, fancy and romance to produce a novel that resonates with reality and vitality.
I read this book mostly to have something to post in our singles section. The premise was only mildly interesting to me. What I did not expect was to get so hooked on the story of Jay and Allie and to find that I could hardly put the book down. I will admit it – I was enthralled.
I don’t know anyone with a lime-green Cadillac convertible, but I have driven led-footed to Panama City in less elegant transportation with single friends to experience many of the same moments experienced by Jay, Allie, Steve, Darcy and the Numericals… It’s just when Blackston leads his characters down the same paths most singles have walked, Jarvis uncovers the humor, the whimsy, and the hand of God that we might have missed along the way.
In 2000, burnt out in the corporate cubicle, Ray Blackston quit his daytime job in Greenville, SC, and decided to pursue the craft of writing. This decision was based partly on the encouragement of his second grade school teacher. Cashing in part of his 401K, the newly determined author gathered richly from his life experiences: as a single, as summer missionary to Ecuador, as financial professional and as planner of frequent beach retreats, then brought to life the fictional characters in Flabbergasted.
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