“Ollie Way” is a thought-provoking novel written by freshman English major Corey Davis. The Clinton native wrote the book while in high school and had it published a year later.
Davis describes “Ollie Way” as a “mystery/coming-of-age/religious” novel. The story follows the protagonist, Evangeline Capricorn, and her family of 13. Evangeline’s father, Oliver Capricorn, is deployed to fight in the Middle East when Evangeline is young.
Evangeline lives in the town of Clinton, but senses something is amiss. No one seems to like her family, and her last name is something near a bad word in the small town. So young Evangeline searches for the answer to why her mysterious family is disliked and who her father is.
Her journey has unexpected twists and turns, and they’re not the cliché ones you expect from a book.
Throughout Evangeline’s journey, she learns about her father, her family’s past and herself. It’s a beautiful coming-of-age story in which Evangeline’s thirst for knowledge doesn’t run thin. Her character is a strong-willed and determined young woman who will stop at nothing to find the answers she seeks.
Davis said her mother told her she sees a lot of Davis in Evangeline, and that’s when she realized she took some her protagonist’s character from herself.
Evangeline is as endearing and difficult as any middle schooler, and the reader sees flaws in her well-crafter character. Evangeline’s incessant need to be right and her heart for others remind readers of her flaws, something Davis focussed on.
Oliver writes endearing and heartfelt letters to his wife Fern, which feel like reading a secret journal between two lovers. Their love story is well-told and appropriate for this novel’s audience.
Davis said despite having a wonderful father who was in the picture her whole life, she liked this story of a father who was unable to always be there for his child.
Davis grew up as an only child, but in the book, she writes about Evangeline as one of 11 children. Davis does a wonderful job capturing what it’s like to be a child with siblings without ever actually having any, and she attributes this to having many great friends.
Davis said being a novelist in college was “kind of amazing” and she never before had been around so many writers of the same age whom she could bounce ideas off.
This book has heavy religious themes, but Davis said she didn’t set out to write it that way. It was just one of those things that meant a lot to her and translated into her own writing.
Overall, “Ollie Way” is a well-written book with lots of heart. Davis is working on her second novel.