As regards our collective entertainment tastes we are, to a very great degree, enthralled with fantasy.

Not surprisingly, our current media offerings gladly cater to this preference. It seems we love nothing better than the good ol’ shoot-em-up – the more shot up the better. We are thrilled when the guns come out, oohing and ahhhing in vicarious delight, hoping against hope that one of the thousands of flying bullets does not catch our current hero of the day. Without fail one always does. Of course it goes without saying that we seldom observe such things in real life.

We simply delight in screeching tires, buildings blown sky-high, cars flying into the air or airplanes dropping out of it. We experience a somewhat perverse joy watching that brave champion of ours engage in never-ending fisticuffs every few scenes; knock-down drag-outs that would land even the toughest of us in a nursing home for the rest of our days. Again, we seldom observe such things in our day-to-day life.

These larger than life mega-dramas draw us by millions each and every week. We spend literally billions of dollars per year to catch that exhilarating make-believe buzz. We will sit for weeks in anticipation, then stand in lines for days to catch the next sequel in some never-ending saga of mind-bending stimulation.

Volcanoes explode. Galaxies implode.  Dragons take wing. Penguins dance and sing.
But when it is all said and done, when the universe has been properly put back together and we get a chance to collect ourselves; when it is at last time to bestow the highly coveted awards, the awards that really matter, it is always much more likely that these will go to a different kind of story.

History has shown us that the greater number of these will go to the ‘people stories’. Everyday tales. The chronicles of real people living real lives and doing real things.
Though we willingly shell out the big bucks to catch that adrenaline buzz, we are much more interested in stories that speak to the soul. It is the narrative of the heart that sticks in our minds long after the smoke of yet another make-believe brawl has cleared. 
Mobile Acres, penned by Joyce Jacobs, is one such story.

The journey into Mobile Acres, a neatly trimmed trailer park in North Carolina, begins with the Pierce family, relocating to the east coast by the way of the father’s job.  In short order we are introduced to the residents of fifteen of the forty-eight lots, and to the manager, Tony Attwood.

Reading each resident’s history, we learn how these individuals come to be in Mobile Acres.  Some came to settle into retirement near the coast in the later years of their lives. Others, such as Fred Green, a retired military man who is grieving the recent loss of his wife, are here not so much for the weather as for the simplicity of this nondescript lifestyle. We will also meet wildly interesting, off-beat characters such as Izzy, a dwarf, and her companion, Rhonda the Fat Lady, her partner for many years in a life of traveling circus and carnival shows.

Others are simply pausing here briefly on their journey to other destinations. Some simply showed up and never left.

Eventually we meet Amanda and George. Amanda is an adult mentally handicapped woman whose care has suddenly become her brother George’s responsibility due to their mother’s recent and unexpected death.  Through Tony’s recommendation, Carmen Suarez becomes Amanda’s daytime companion. Amanda then becomes acquainted with the five-year-old Babson child, Violet, the center around which this story develops. 
We will also meet the Jerryls, the personification of ‘trailer park trash’ and a host of other seemingly mundane characters that will soon become players in this real-life drama. For, unknown to all, there is a latent pedophile in the midst of this idyllic scene. 

Soon after the arrival of Violet, the interest of this offender is awakened. He entices little Violet to go for an innocent bicycle ride.  It may be her last.

It is this event that brings the seemingly separate lives of these residents together. The residents join in the search for the child when she is discovered to be missing.  And now we begin to uncover the surprising strengths that have lain dormant within each and every one of these supposedly normal and everyday folk.

The characters in this book are extremely well drawn. These could be, indeed most likely are, your neighbors. And like most of us, the everyday interaction between them consisted of a nod of the head or a quick wave perhaps. A forced smile or a quick handshake was normally the extent of the relationship held between these packed-in-like-sardines strangers. Yet, when faced with a common enemy, the tin walls and imagined lot lines fell away, and all became as one.

Say what you will. No slavering space alien, regardless of how well portrayed, could create a fear that could begin to compare to the abject terror any parent feels when a child is missing. For this is a fear many of us have personally experienced. Most of us have, at some point, been there and done that.

I have been there and done that. It was not until it was over that I discovered the neighbor, the one I had been so politely ignoring all those years was, in fact, a human being with a name and a past.  After it was over, we shook hands. But it was a decidedly different handshake from all the others past. The nameless neighbor had at last become the familiar friend.

It is this simple fact that makes this story so enthralling and such a wonderful read.

Joyce Jacobs was born in Harrisonville, Missouri, raised in Colorado and now resides in North Carolina. Moving to Colorado at the age of ten, her family lived in a trailer park for two years before moving to the mountains. The memories of the time spent in the park piqued her interest in people and how they come to be where they are found at any given time in their respective lives. Her interest in this subject was the inspiration for ‘Mobile Acres’. She can be contacted at risingmeadow1@atmc.net

Don McCauley ICM, MTC, CH is a writer, an editor, an advertising consultant and is the author of ‘Learn To Live A Life Without Problems’. Further information can be obtained at http://www.heavenonearthsystem.com

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