Introducing Grace Mockingbird from Cindy Morgan’s The Year of Jubilee

book cover image

My guest today for Novel PASTtimes is an exceptional young lady named Grace Mockingbird. Grace, thank you for agreeing to talk with me today.

You’re welcome.

Wow, Grace, don’t knock me over with enthusiasm (wink wink).

Oh, I’m sorry. I guess the truth is, I don’t always feel comfortable talking about myself.

Well, I think that’s perfectly understandable. Even though the teen years are way back in the rearview mirror for me, I remember it being a tricky time. 

Yes, you can say that again.

(Interviewer pauses for a sip of water… thinking, This is gonna be tougher than I thought.

So Grace, tell me a little bit about yourself—your interests, where you live.

Okay, well, I just turned fourteen. I live in Eastern Kentucky in a place called Jubilee. It’s a coal-mining town, but believe it or not, we have a nice little downtown area with a movie theater, a diner, and some nice shops on Main Street. I like to ride my bike downtown sometimes. As for my interests, I like to read fiction and sometimes poetry. I also like to journal and write poetry. 

Oh, I also love to read, Grace! Something we have in common. And how wonderful that you’re a writer! I know that lots of people who are creative find that writing can be a very therapeutic exercise for dealing with difficult experiences in life. I understand that this has been a tough summer for you and your family?

Yes, a very sad year. We lost my younger brother, Isaac.

I’m so sorry, Grace. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.

Yes. Sometimes it’s surreal to think that he’s no longer here and that I can’t play with him in the backyard anymore. He had a pet rooster name Rojo that he loved. I can tell Rojo really misses him too. 

How old was Issac when he passed? 

Seven, almost eight. 

So young. (Interviewer pauses and takes a deep breath to calm her emotions) Grace, I practice a tradition of keeping the memories of those we have lost alive by sharing things about them that were special. Would you mind sharing the thing that you remember most about your brother? 

That’s a cool tradition. I think I remember his curiosity the most. He was extremely intelligent. Genius IQ actually. He read constantly. Anything he could get his hands on. He loved to learn. I really miss the conversations we used to have. Even though he was young, he was so wise for his age.

It sounds like you had a very special relationship with him. Thank you for sharing that special memory you have of him. Grace, I also hear that there are some very special things going on in the town of Jubilee that you live in. Could you share some of those things?

Yes, 1963 is a strange time to be living in our part of the world, obviously, with all of the marches that Dr. King has been leading for equality and integration. Many Southerners are not in favor of this. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t really thought very much about it until my English teacher, Miss Adams, challenged me and my other classmates to think outside of the traditions that we have been raised in.

She sounds like a really special teacher. 

She definitely is. She’s very different from the other people in Jubilee. My dad also likes to hear Dr. King speak. My Aunt June loves his preaching. But a lot of people in Jubilee are afraid of the changes that it might bring. 

Yes, people often like for things to stay the same. Grace, I was going to ask you about your last name, it’s very unusual. Can you tell me about its origin?

Yes, Mockingbird is from my dad’s Native American heritage. He’s very proud of it. His dad was Rowdy Mockingbird. He’s kind of infamous in this area. 

Well, with a name like that, I’m not surprised. (Takes another sip of water) Do you have other siblings?

Yes, my sister, Sissy. She’s sixteen and very bossy.

Oh my! I had one of those too. What are her interests?


Ouch! I guess that’s a point for the little sis, eh? Grace, not to return you to a difficult topic, but how are your parents dealing with the loss of your brother?

I mean, that’s a pretty personal question for me to answer on my parents’ behalf, but I guess I think they’re trying to work through all of it the very best that they can. My aunt June says that beautiful things come from suffering. My mom cries a lot. She’s also creating a beautiful garden in his honor. She says she likes to have her hands in the dirt. She says something about it is healing.

Oh yes, I agree with that. 

My dad works a lot. There were so many hospital bills from Isaac’s treatment. Aunt June, she’s the bright spot. She tries to cheer us all up. We love having her around even though she’s a terrible cook.

Oh! Well, I’m not much of a chef myself. Grace, I’m glad Aunt June is there to encourage you. I also had a favorite aunt. Her name is Doris. She also lives in Kentucky.


Any last thoughts about what your family has been through? And speaking of Aunt June and the words of wisdom on beauty coming from suffering she shared with you, can you talk more about that?

Can I have a drink of your water first? My throat is so dry…

Oh, of course! (interviewer slides water glass across to Grace, who drinks every last drop of water)

Thanks! Okay…. I guess when I think about what my family has been through— losing Isaac has forced us to deal with things we had avoided for years. In some strange way it has brought us closer together. I also think it has given us more compassion for other people who are going through difficulties. 

Yes, Grace, if there is ever a silver lining in tragedy, it is that suffering can soften our hearts to be more sensitive to what other people are going through. 

Yes. Before, I only thought about myself, and my own worries and struggles. But now I think it’s easier for me to notice when other people are struggling too.

Grace, I want to thank you for being so transparent today and sharing these very special things with me and with our audience. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from you in the future. You keep reading those good books and writing poems in your journal. Maybe we’ll see one of them in print.

I certainly hope so. 

Thank you again, Grace Mockingbird, for sharing a little part of your journey with us today. 

The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices of those she loves the most.

 About the Author

Singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan is a two-time Grammy nominee, a thirteen-time Dove winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Songwriter of the Year trophy. An East Tennessee native, her evocative melodies and lyrics have mined the depths of life and love both in her own recording and through songwriting for noteworthy artists around the globe, including Vince Gill, India.Arie, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Sandra McCracken, and Glen Campbell. Cindy is the author of two works of adult nonfiction—the memoir How Could I Ask for More: Stories of Blessings, Battles and Beauty (Worthy Inspired, 2015) and Barefoot on Barbed Wire: A Journey Out of Fear into Freedom (Harvest House Publishers, 2001)—and of the children’s picture book Dance Me, Daddy (ZonderKidz, 2009). The Year of Jubilee is her debut novel. Cindy is a cocreator of the charitable Hymns for Hunger Tour, which has raised awareness and resources for hunger relief organizations across the globe. Cindy has two daughters and splits her time between a small town near Nashville and Holly Springs, North Carolina, with her husband, Jonathan. For more information visit 

Helpful links: 

Cindy’s website

Her Facebook

Her Twitter

Her Instagram

To order The Year of Jubilee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s