Driving Jesus to Little Rock by Roland Merullo was our online book club choice for May.
Author Eddie Volplicella is the narrator and the fictional name for the real author Roland Merullo in this book Driving Jesus to Little Rock. The author has been invited to Little Rock by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to discuss his previous book Breakfast with Buddha, which I had also read. In the beginning, I thought the author basically swapped Jesus for Buddha as they were both philosophical discussions with a higher being during a cross country road trip.
The basic premise of the book is that Jesus has chosen Eddie to write a book about the gap years—in the Bible, we hear stories of Jesus’ birth and years up until he turns 13, then nothing until he is in his thirties. Jesus tells Eddie what happened in the intervening years.
Since the author had already written 4 other Buddha books, and one about God and golf, I thought his skepticism about “Jesus” was a bit weird. Every night, Eddie speaks to his wife in Massachusetts and updates her on his journey with “Jesus”. She believes it is truly Jesus from the start, and slowly convinces Eddie to open up and believe too. I enjoyed the first part of the book better than the second half, while others in our book club liked the reverse. There are some pretty weird scenes and some that are totally confusing that none of us quite understood. Why did the Russian give Jesus a box in a fancy restaurant, and why a day later did he give the box to a little girl in the wilds of West Virginia? Why did Jesus work to get them arrested? What was the deal of the hallucinogenic tea in the Arkansas Delta?
It was an easy read, and the parts about Arkansas were fun, but as one member said, she thought with the title Little Rock there would be more about Arkansas in it. Eddie and Jesus do eat at Craig’s Barbeque and rave about the food.
If nothing else, this book generated a lot of discussion.
In our book club we have 1 born Catholic, 2 converted Catholic (1 lapsed, 1 active), 2 born Southern Baptist (1 now Catholic) and me, a Presbyterian. It was interesting to see how our personal beliefs impacted what we read. Paula gave it the highest rating of a 4, but overall it came in with a 3.3. I am a bit ambiguous about recommending it.