Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-28
- Reviewer: Staff
First-time author Davis delivers an engaging if longwinded biography of three men bound by blood, music, and a lifelong struggle to strike a balance between the sacred and secular. As cousins, rock ‘n' roll pianist Jerry Lee Lewis, televangelist and gospel singer Jimmy Swaggart, and country music star Mickey Gilley grew up during the Great Depression in the small town of Ferriday, Louisiana. While Jerry's piano skills were evident early on, Jimmy's talents weren't. He was a reluctant churchgoer, preferring to gamble and steal during his pre-pulpit years. Mickey meanwhile emerged as Ferriday's favorite son and the most likable of the cousins. Davis covers many familiar stories, including Jerry's marriage to his 13-year-old cousin once removed in 1957, Jimmy's infamous infidelities that almost brought down his ministry in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and Mickey's years as co-owner of the nightclub that bore his surname and inspired 1980's hit movie Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta. Davis acknowledges that Jerry and Jimmy were "reluctant to participate directly" in the book, though that doesn't stop the author from occasionally imagining himself in their shoes, and despite some contrived dialogue and excessive foreshadowing, this 3-in-1 bio is nevertheless an entertaining and epic story of perseverance and the power of family ties. Photos. (May)