The Making of Tibias Ivory: Freedom's Quest
by D. Allen Jenkins
Review by John Howard Reid
I am not a fan of kindle, nook, iPad and other such devices. True, they are useful if what you seek is simply information. When it comes to fiction, however, like many other reviewers, I like to hold a real book in my hands. A printed book holds many clues to the author's credentials. For instance, the first thing I want to know is the writer's identity. Is he or she a real man or woman with a genuine desire to share his or her insights and experiences with the reader, or simply a manufactured media-front automaton for some bread-and-circuses publishing combine?
Happily, D. Allen Jenkins is obviously the real genuine article -- indeed the ideal person, equipped with all the necessary knowledge and background to write a gripping (if sometimes horrifyingly realistic) novel about real people in real situations. Terrible situations, alas, but as real as yesterday's newspaper headlines. The characters in "The Making of Tibias Ivory" are alive. They breathe, they live in hope, they suffer, they die, they triumph. They grab hold of the reader, take him by the hand, grasp his heart and imprint themselves indelibly upon his mind.
What's more, the author doesn't stop at creating engrossing characters. In addition to his cast of acutely-observed, three-dimensional people, Jenkins has crafted a milieu and a town (ironically called "Principle") every bit as stridently unrelenting in its hatreds and prejudices as William Faulkner's "Jefferson" (actually Oxford, Miss.) featured in such novels as "Go Down, Moses" and "Intruder in the Dust".
If anything, Jenkins' "The Making of Tibias Ivory" is a more powerful piece of writing. Like Faulkner, Jenkins' aim is -- through the sustained use of contrast -- to express the universal values of love, honor, sympathy, compassion and sacrifice. In this debut novel, he succeeds brilliantly.