Down Right Good, by Karen Kelly Boyce

Down right good

This story of social media with training wheels follows ten-year-old Angie’s Saturday deliveries of newspapers and baked goods. Each customer along Angie’s route receives her gifts and shares conversations, usually revealing vexing problems. Angie gathers problems at each stop, not as burdens but with an intention of finding solutions.

Angie’s Down syndrome limits her vocabulary but diminishes neither her insight nor her ability to “tell it like it is.” At least one of her customers regularly shouts at Angie, warning her that she never wants to see her again, but actually would miss Angie if she didn’t return the next week. Each customer owns a puzzle piece. Angie finds ways of bringing them together to form a wondrous mosaic.

Many of the chapters of Down Right Good stand on their own as powerful short stories, but Karen Kelly Boyce cleverly links them into a magnificent whole. Angie’s childlike ministrations heal her community so that strangers, tepid neighbors and alienated family members come to live as a caring community, willing to accept and forgive even the worst offenders among them.

If Angie is the “angel” of the story, there must be a villain. As in her novel In the Midst of Wolves, Boyce describes the far reaching effects of child abuse that plague Angie on her errands of mercy. The author not only decries the evil, but she provides an example of a solution to this pervasive problem.

Pope Francis has called for a Year of Mercy, beginning on 8 December 2015. Down Right Good exemplifies the spirit of “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Angie acts as a “missionary of mercy.” Her impact brings her community a sense of acceptance and forgiveness for transgressions past and present.

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