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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Mr. Jimmy From Around The Way

ISBN: 978-0825310324

Publisher: Beaufort Books

Publication Date: 01/16/2024

Format: Hardcover & e-book

My Rating: 5 Stars ++


James Henry Ferguson doesn’t belong here.

After a highly publicized fall from grace, James attempts to flee from the chaos in his life. He ends up in a community he had never heard of before, one that has been neglected and ignored by everyone in rural Ham, Mississippi. A place of abject poverty, the neighborhood is commonly referred to as “Around the Way.”

Within a place forgotten by the rest of the world, politics can be a dangerous game. When a troubling discovery is made, the entire neighborhood is rocked to its core and James is forced to confront his own past in order to help the community have a future. He will have to find the strength to fight for the neighbors he once disregarded and avert a heart-breaking disaster.

A self-identified failure is forced to uncover the wisdom of his past in order to recognize that money can’t solve every problem. Full of never-ending twists and turns, no one can prepare themselves for the surprises in store. Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way is a story about failure, self-discovery, empowerment, and the possibility of redemption.

My Review

Master storyteller and award-winning author Jimmy Blount delivers a Southern fiction masterpiece in MR. JIMMY FROM AROUND THE WAY. A must-read for EVERYONE—regardless of color, race, or class. You will laugh and cry with unforgettable characters that linger long after the book ends.

Top Book of 2024 and Black History Month Book Pick! If you can only read one book this year—this is the one. Trust me, you will want to read it more than once.

A story of redemption, race, class, politics, religion, sex, violence, and poverty. Set in the Deep South, one man's fall from grace turns into love, respect, community, and the true meaning of family.

Washington, DC. 2016: Black self-made billionaire, a megastar, successful businessman, and distinguished philanthropist James Henry Ferguson, the son of a Baptist minister, husband to Rebecca, and father of two adult daughters, Katherine and Lillian. We also get flashbacks to 1984.

He was on top of the world. He had a good life mistake that has cost him his reputation, wife, and family.

Lady Nymph. A tweet that went viral.

A fall from grace, a national media storm, and disgraced James buys a small home online in rural Ham, Mississippi, the Deep South in the middle of poverty.

He buys it online without seeing it, and the realtor, Olivia Fey Carol, takes care of the renovation. It is a small four-room house, unlike what he is accustomed to. He thinks he should return to his roots and find solace while he pays for his sins, taking shelter.

Ham, Mississippi, 2017-2018: James meets his 92-year-old neighbor, a spitfire, Miss Septima. She is a wise woman and takes him under her wing.

Then he meets two boys selling candy, Juba and Beech, who will ultimately change each other's lives, along with a cast of characters that will change him and their town for the better.

Miss Septima soon gives James the name "Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way." The billionaire man in the little house. The poverty-stricken town is sad, with poor education, no indoor bathrooms and electricity, and the homes are falling down. Plus, most are unable to read or write.

Mr. Jimmy still has his money and begins using it positively to help those around him: the children, the adults, neighbors, and new friends. He has always believed in giving back. He develops reading /literacy programs (Bob Books) and teaches the children, teens, and adults how to work, provides meals, teaches them to be responsible, and strives for things to give them purpose and something to look forward to. (loved the ocean mural in his home for inspiration for the kids).

He gets upset when he has to take Miss Septima to the hospital and cannot get help and threatens to buy the hospital, which then makes him enemies with the corrupt white political leader in the town. This is the South, and he is Black, no matter his billions.

He had big plans to buy land and put in pre-fab houses, an idea for a farm to sell to the restaurants, jobs, medical care, education, and a park for the kids. Now, this evil man has blackmailed everyone, and they will not sell to him. But this guy has skeletons that will soon come to light in his closet.

Plus, someone is following him, taking photos, and turning everything he does around to make him look bad in front of the world and social media. This causes pain for his new friends and neighbors, plus more pain for his family back home. His secret life in Ham has now been publicized, not in a good way.

Then, a tragedy hits one of his newfound neighbors and friends, and he is determined to get to the bottom of this and seek justice for his friends who were wronged.

With the help of his newfound family and supporters, he finds another way to buy a motel and move in with the families, and his dreams may just come true with the help of others along the way against all odds. They will not give up.

"No good deed goes unpunished."

"Check for air pressure, blood pressure, and water pressure."

Will he be able to redeem himself?

From past to present, a richly drawn, beautifully written, timely, thought-provoking, moving, and emotionally charged novel of redemption and giving back on the road from failure to healing, respect, and forgiveness. Uplifting, the story proves it takes more than one person to make a difference.

If you are ever down and feel like a failure, you must read MR. JIMMY FROM AROUND THE WAY. It will lift your spirits and give you faith and hope in humanity.

I fell in love with the cast of characters from Mr. Jimmy, Miss Septima (fav), Olivia and Yankee (favs), Juba (fav), Beech, Dr. Longford, Fountain, Mason, Mary Ford, Patrice, Miss Frances, Miss DiDee, Miss Mae Rose, and Bess. I loved Miss Septima's button collection.

From racial injustice, abuse, and poverty to politics and community. Now, I must read the author's backlist! Highly recommend! It is an essential read and a perfect book club pick for further discussions. I loved this book so much that I purchased the e-book and hardcover, and I hope an audiobook will be coming soon! Prime for the big or small screen!

For fans of small rural towns, Southern Fiction, UpLit, and Literary Fiction.

PS. Directly after reading, I read an ARC of David Baldacci's upcoming A Calamity of Souls (April 16, 2024). If you loved Mr. Jimmy, you will enjoy another 5-star winner set in the South. In the tumultuous year of 1968 in southern Virginia, a racially-charged murder case sets a duo of white and Black lawyers against a profoundly unfair system as they work to defend their wrongfully accused Black defendants in this courtroom drama. (My two favorite books of 2024 thus far). The two go hand in hand.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars ++

Pub Date: Jan 16, 2024

Top Books of 2024


"Blount makes us pause to take an up-close look at poverty and racism in our collective backyard. This powerful novel shows the true meaning of 'it takes a village,' and that doing the right thing should be color blind."

—Karen White, New York Times Bestselling Author

"This tender story is for any of us who have fallen and found the only way up is by reaching out a hand to others."

—Cassandra King, author of Tell Me a Story: My Life with Pat Conroy

"With a true sense of place and authentic dialogue, the author introduces characters not easily forgotten. I found myself crying and cheering, lost in their pain and ultimately, joy. A heartwarming story with the emotional depth of an important read."

—Johnnie Bernhard, author of Hannah and Ariela, winner of the National Federation of Press Women, Novel Award 2023

“A feat of beauty and cultural significance. . . . A vivid portrait of love, race, redemption, and the American dream. It reaches into your heart, twists it, breaks it, mends it, and transforms it—it doesn't let you go. An instant classic.

—Pamela Hamilton, author of Lady Be Good: The Life and Times of Dorothy Hale

"Blount balances page-turning plot twists and turns with elegant literary prose and emotional integrity in this amazing novel. Fans of the 1970 movie, They Call Me Mister Tibbs! and Pat Conroy's The Water is Wide will love Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way."

—Susan Cushman, author/editor of John and Mary Margaret and Cherry Bomb, and the anthology Southern Writers on Writing

"A moving novel with richly-drawn characters and sharp prose. Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way teaches us that every journey to redemption ultimately must involve a painful reckoning with your true self."

—Steve Majors, author of High Yella: A Modern Family Memoir

"Using a deft hand, Jeffrey Blount takes us behind Mr. Jimmy’s agonizing journey, where black and white figure prominently, and yet—as in the lives we all lead—everything is a thousand shades of gray."

—Steve Piacente, author, life coach and communications trainer

"Despite his magnanimity being a focal point of the novel, Jimmy is a flawed hero…But it’s precisely these flaws that make Jimmy’s generosity not only believable but meaningful. In the novel, a disgraced man models open, unrelenting kindness in the face of the worst conditions."

—Foreword Reviews

"A graceful narrative with sparkling and witty dialogue. You will find yourself smiling, as you journey along. But you will, by the end, find yourself moved to tears by what abject poverty does to human beings. At least, I was."

—Larry I. Palme, author of the memoir, Scholarship Boy: Meditations on Family and Race, and professor of law emeritus at Cornell University

"Mr. Jimmy From Around the Way is a thoughtfully written, thought-provoking, complacency-smashing novel of redemption and restoration, and a testament to the truth that it is in lifting up others that we ourselves are lifted up."

—Marie Bostwick, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly

About the Author

Jeffrey is the award-winning author of three novels. His most recent book, The Emancipation of Evan Walls was the winner of the 2020 National Indie Excellence Award for African American fiction.

He is also an Emmy award-winning television director and a 2016 inductee to the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. During a 34-year career at NBC News, Jeffrey directed a decade of Meet The Press, the Today show, NBC Nightly News, and major special events. He is the first African- American to direct the Today show.

He is also an award-winning documentary scriptwriter for films and interactives that are now on display in the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. In 2017 and 2018, Jeffrey served as Journalist in Residence and Shapiro Fellow at the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University.

A Virginia native, he graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in Communications/Broadcast Journalism.

Born and raised in Smithfield, Virginia, he now lives in Washington, DC. WEBSITE







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