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In an age when even books are being reduced to the size of a sound bite, this is one that fits neatly into the pocket as well as into the time available for reading. A complete read takes about 90 minutes.

The story of "The Mourning Dove" is fairly simple but well told without the simpering text or attempts to preach one finds in many of these "pocketbook" creations."The Mourning Dove" tells a coming of age story. Hannibal, a young boy, is orphaned and brought to live with "Pop," the grandfather every child should have. He learns about growing up in a rural setting, to sell brooms and to understand choices from this weathered, kindly storyteller.

When he finally "cons" his not-so-dumb grandpa into letting him hunt, he shoots a mourning dove. Too late, he discovers the dove's two chicks, now left with a single parent.

Hannibal must make a choice about the babies that is both wrenching and enduring in the sense that it affects the rest of the story and provides insight into the circumstances and people that have shaped his young life.

This is a story about realistic people, told with skill, one of sacrifice, harking back to scripture and Christ.

It's easy to picture the characters, although some do conjure up some "Tom Sawyer" images. A character named Charlie Bennett, for instance, is strikingly akin to the Huckleberry Finn, and his dark, dangerous father not unlike Injun Joe.

This little book is one of the better efforts at a pocketbook novel.