The Advocate takes a different route to the usual feel-good, heroic narrative to create a more realistic tale that depicts the good and bad experiences of a multiracial American family. Simon, a pale and anemic child of Black, White, and Native American decent, is subjected to several unwelcome lectures by his grandmother, Ollie. Ollie, after suffering from sexual abuse earlier in life, lost her faith in the Christian God and realizes her passion in stating the inadequacies that exist in society and guiding her grandson. Eventually, Simon comes to appreciate his grandmother’s rants, although his extremist views later come back to haunt both him and his family.
Billy McCoy employs a character-based narrative that projects the deep emotions and thoughts of its protagonists as they experience different phenomena: childhood, old age, parenthood, politics, schooling, racism, alcoholism, jail, gambling, gossip, family discords, clashing beliefs, and more. The story moves at a slow pace but maintains an engaging narrative since it brings forth different insightful thoughts and switches between the characters’ viewpoints.
The ideas discussed in The Advocate would be great in a stand-alone work of nonfiction. The characters’ perspectives on different issues in our world are simply phenomenal. I had to stop in amazement and ponder the philosophical thoughts expressed in the book. In fact, I spent a good deal of time bookmarking several sentences in the book. A discussed idea questions calling people who refuse to do a mind-numbing task to satisfy irrational desires lazy. The book made me think further about how working hard is glorified when it is usually directed toward the disgraceful act of buying unsatisfactory goods in large amounts and feeding our increasing greed.
I was taken back to my childhood by The Advocate and the comical relationship between Simon and his parents and grandparents. Sometimes, he pretends he has to pee to escape his grandmother’s lectures, and the flying shoe used as a corrective tool reminded me of my mother. I loved the lifelike narrative as it explores an issue I had been contemplating; I have always wondered what turns a dreamy and carefree child into a rigid and negative parent. Billy McCoy’s book couldn’t have portrayed this phenomenon better with its frank and relatable narrative.
Readers who enjoy a family-themed narrative that explores uncomfortable truths about the state of our world would love The Advocate. In addition to being hilarious, sobering, and mentally stimulating, The Advocate contains some life-changing ideas that caused me to reevaluate my own life goals. I would certainly love to read other similarly intuitive books by Billy McCoy.
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