The Wrecked, Blessed Body of Shelton Lafleur

John Gregory Brown (1996)

When eight-year-old Shelton Gerard Lafleur falls from the top of a live oak tree, the course of his young life is changed forever. Injured, confused and silent, the boy is placed in an orphanage where he’s taunted and teased for five years before finally running off. He’s befriended by a wonderful character named Minou, a blind man who becomes both father-figure and mentor to the boy.

Together they spend their days painting pictures for tourists in the parks of New Orleans. All the while, the boy is haunted by his childhood before the fall, by memories of the frail white woman he calls mother, and her father, a man mysteriously referred to as “Mr. Edwards.” With Minou’s help, Shelton discovers the truth behind his birth. The story is told in flashback, with the sixty-year-old Shelton, now an established artist, using his paintings to illustrate the stories of his life. A worthy follow-up to the author’s wonderful Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery.

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