The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery Book Tour and Review

— feeling happy



The Grass Sweeper God by Doug Howery

Paperback: 250 pages

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing

Date: October 23, 2014

ISBN-10: 1499783493





Being different in America has never been easy; being born different and in the wrong body in Solitude, Virginia in the 1950’s, is brutal. Smiley Hanlon lives day to day trapped in a Coal Miners town, buffeted by the Appalachian’s and generations of hate and mistrust. Any hint of being different, or being a ‘Freak’ is enough to ostracize you, pigeon hole you and make you a target for bullying – or worse. Backed by his best friend and protector, Lee Moore, Smiley made it through the days…until the night everything shattered. Chosen as the lead in a new town production called Dorothy of Oz Coal Camp, it seemed to be the beginning to acceptance and maybe even happiness, but the world is cruel and mankind even crueler. The triumph of the play decayed into a Coal Miners version of “Carrie” culminating in a tragic and horrific moment that would change both Smiley and Lee, forever.


Doug Howery Author Photo



DOUG HOWERY has been writing both fiction and essays since 1990. His essays and familial stories have appeared in The Blue Ridge Lambda Press. 
In many of his stories, as in "The Grass Sweeper God," Mr. Howery's true lode, his font of inspiration is in the passion and suffering he has experienced. 


Suspense author, Maggie Grace, with the North Carolina Writers' Network writes about her cohort Mr. Howery:


"What I like is the riskiness, the cutting edge of the narrative voice we hear. The moments when he lapses into descriptions of the moon, of the horse, etc. are true poetry that offers some relief from the coarseness of the story, and he places them well. He has an ear for the rhythm of the story, a natural sense of when to end--hangs fire with a new way of looking at someone or something, turning the entire chapter on its ear. I like the way he makes it impossible for the reader to stop reading at the end of the chapter." 

Mr. Howery lives in Virginia with his partner of 31 years where he is at work on his next novel. 


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Susan Barton, My Book Tour and eBook Review Gal


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~ eBook Review Gal Review of The Grass Sweeper God ~


Smiley Hanlon’s life certainly is not an easy one. His mother abandoned him and left him in the care of his loving aunt and abusive uncle. In addition to that, Smiley is different than most other boys his age who are growing up in 1950s Solitude, Virginia. He’s ridiculed, beat up and bullied for dressing and “behaving” more like a girl than a boy.


Despite these things, Smiley remains positive, happy, outgoing and determined to stay true to himself. His best friend, Lee Moore, remains by his side throughout it all and becomes Smiley’s devoted protector.


The Grass Sweeper God is a complex tale about growing up different and overcoming the ignorance, fear and hatred that so often comes with it. At times, this book is absolutely heartbreaking. The horrendous and despicable acts humans are capable of committing against each other, simply for being different, are shocking and infuriating.


Doug Howery holds no punches when depicting these atrocities, and readers can be thankful for that. There’s no reason to sugarcoat the stories of vicious and downright criminal behavior endured by Smiley and his friends when one is looking to bring about change.


A certain amount of spiritualism and mysticism is introduced into the story. Through his friend, Carr, who is a local Native American, Smiley learns that the Grass Sweeper God is a powerful spiritual force. Carr also explains to Smiley about being a winkte – people with two souls and special spiritual talents. Throughout his life, Carr remains a faithful and loving friend and teacher to Smiley.


Doug Howery has written The Grass Sweeper God from several POVs and he does it seamlessly. Hearing the story from the POV of several characters adds a great deal of substance and interest to the novel. Although The Grass Sweeper God is a work of fiction, one can easily imagine that Mr. Howery has experienced many of the prejudices in his story firsthand, since the book’s characters and storyline are so well-developed. He’s careful to present several views on homosexuality and transgender issues, which is important for anyone looking for insight into these timely topics.


I would highly recommend The Grass Sweeper God. It’s well-written, heartfelt, engaging and informative. Kudos to Doug Howery for sharing this story!


5 of 5 Stars, Review by Susan Barton