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Small As A Mustard Seed

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  77 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Small as a Mustard Seed is "a real page turner, a gripping tale of a family blown apart by tragedy. Yet, ultimately, the novel is redeeming as well, told through the viewpoint of a heroine who will both break and mend your heart." (Sue William Silverman, author of Love Sick)

As the daughter of a Korean war veteran, Ann Marie learns not to trust people, including her own par
Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Published by Alpha Doll Media, LLC (first published December 31st 2003)
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Rating details
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Shelli Johnson
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Well, I'm the author so I'm a bit biased, sure. But I'd still think it was a good book even if I didn't write it. :)
C.E. Jr.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Small as a Mustard Seed by Shelli Johnson is a tapestry of words and emotions. This flowing and descriptive story will take you on a journey into the depths of a family broken by painful memories and secrets. In characters richly designed with weaknesses which propel the narrative to an amazing level of realism, Shelli Johnson has made the connection between reader and story. Filled with heartache, anger, and desperation, Ms. Johnson manages to deliver her message without leaving the reader in a ...more
Rich Weatherly
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I’m a Vietnam War veteran. That is what attracted me to Shelli Johnson’s book initially. Having subscribed to Shelli’s blog, I was already familiar with her writing and enjoyed the information she provided.

Small as a Mustard Seed focuses on the effects of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a Korean War veteran. This is an unfortunate side effect of war. The book takes you on a journey as seen through the eyes of Ann Marie Adler, a daughter of Frank whose life has been shattered by PTSD. Th
D.H. Nevins
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a poignant story about finding compassion and understanding in an existence that, at first glance, appears to be devoid of both. The two girls in the book, Ann Marie and Jolene—in fact, the entire Adler family—are painted in such tangible, vivid colours, I connected with them instantly. Even when I wasn’t reading the book, I found the characters frequently tangled in my thoughts—wondering what they should do; saddened by their plights, and thinking about their futures. Even the story’s a ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Small as a Mustard Seed was like stepping into someone's life. The characters are gut-wrenchingly honest and so well written, you feel their pain, their struggle and their relief as they grow. As you watch the story unfold through the eyes of the older sister, you wonder what the others in the family are experiencing at first. However, as the story goes on, you realize that one perspective is enough because she is so observant and raw about what she sees and hears in her world.

While the book is
Karen Toz
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, well written and emotional novel dealing with family relationships and coping with mental illness. The story is about the Adler Family, told through eldest daughter Ann Marie. Through her eyes, we learn about her father who has never been the same since the war, her mother who refuses to acknowledge the abuse her daughters endure, and her sister Jolene who wrestles with her own demons. A very poignant and well told story. I look forward to reading more of Author Shelli Johns ...more
Merry Farmer
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelli Johnson has done a really good job of bringing the painful emotions of her characters into sharp focus. Her skill as a writer is top-notch. I wasn't sure if the reactions of the girls to their situation was age-appropriate in the chapters where they were younger, they seemed a little too self-aware for kids, but the emotional intensity of the story was absolutely there!
Johannes Gouws
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A gripping story told through the eyes of a child. The tension is palpable and builds to breaking point, keeping the reader hooked to the last page. Shilli is an accomplished writer from whom we can expect many more cracking reads.
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A powerful and beautifully personal book. It touched me deeply. A story of people and their struggles and hopes. Simply beautiful.
Nov 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All adult readers looking for a real story
Recommended to Tom by: Shelli Johnson
Shelves: top-shelf

This is a story that will run you through an emotional marathon at a sprinters pace. Rarely do you find a novel or a writer than can reach inside the reader to evoke such strong feelings but Shelli Johnson’s ‘Small as a Mustard Seed’ is that one in a million story.

The story’s central quandary is the question we must all answer at points in our lives; can we find the capacity to genuinely forgive and let go of resentment. The challenge in this story is that after Jolie and Ann Marie suffer so mu
Masquerade Crew
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it

This book deals with the issue of growing up in a family where mental illness is prevalent. Beginning in the 60s around the time of the Vietnam war it chronicles the story of Ann Marie, growing up with a father who would not only not recognise his daughters at time, but would mistake them for the enemy he once fought in Korea, or for fellow soldiers who needed punishing. While Ann Marie escapes much of the brunt of this, her sister Jolene is often forced to suffer as a result of thei
Richard Nixon
Nov 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I first heard of Small as a Mustard Seed on Twitter while trying to expand my social networking presence. I saw a tweet by the author, Shelli Johnson, and decided to click on the link which took me to a sample of the book. Her opening lines got right into the story. Much more importantly, though, she hooked *me* into the story. I wasn't just reading connected words that would reveal what happened next if I kept going - I was experiencing what was happening in the scene on multiple sensory levels ...more
Katherine Owen
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelli Johnson's wonderful novel, "Small As A Mustard Seed", is one of those stories that will stay with readers for a long-time. The story of a family torn apart by a father's post-traumatic illness after his return from a foreign war is both heartbreaking and tragic. Johnson delves into the deep complexities of the relationships between a father and his daughters, between a mother and her daughters, and between the two sisters, Anne Marie and Jolene, and forces readers to confront an all-telli ...more
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, fiction
"Do you think faith will save us? I don't know."
Jolene Adler to her sister Ann Marie

Set in rural Ohio of the 1960's and 1970's, Shelli Johnson's Small As A Mustard Seed is a gripping story about forgiveness, pain, fear, war, and tragic loss. Johnson introduces us to the Adler family: Frank who survives, and just survives the Korean conflict but is brutally afflicted with mental issue and a serious battlefield wound, Adele the wife and mom whose main choice causes the family she wants to keep tog
Tom Harris
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Charting a journey through adolescence in Stanhope, Ohio, from 1965 to 1973 and beyond, this is a moving tale about the brutality and disintegration of the human condition and having the courage and faith to survive it.

Anne-Marie and her sister, Jolene, are constantly terrified of their father, Frank, a war veteran with schizophrenia who suffers from flashbacks and paranoia induced by his time serving in Korea. The two girls escape into their imagination as they deal with parental abuse when mis
Patricia Paris
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelly Johnson has created a masterpiece in Small As A Mustard Seed. From page one, I was pulled into this grippingly emoional story of the Adler family. Johnson is a word artist, crafting beautifully written scenes that come to life through vivid description and masterful character development.
This is a story of complex relationships and fractured lives. Johnson makes you feel every ounce of the, anger, confusion, fear and desperation sisters Anne Marie and Jolene experience toward their paren
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I didn't read the summary before I started this book, so I wasn't sure what I was getting into. This book turned out to be incredible. Its not something that I wouldn't usually read, but from the minute I started I just couldn't put it down. The first chapter just captured me completely. It is emotionally gripping with characters so real. Ann Marie was the character I connected with most. Always holding emotions inside. She had to carry so much grief, and eventually had to learn to let it go. Go ...more
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
A powerful book regarding deep, deep pain and the process/ability for forgiveness. Characters developed so believably one finds oneself wearing their clothes and feeling their pain/trauma/quandary. Life isn't fair, and the ramifications of an unfair life leaves scars too thick to ever fully disappear, yet, with time and permission, can fade enough to allow movement forward to forgiveness. A book worth sharing and gifting.
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I sailed through this book, and my only complaint at the end was that I wanted a subplot. The story was beautifully told and held my interest throughout, but it needed a side story to give me a chance to breathe. Some parts were very tense - which I do love! I have recommended this book to my friends and will continue to.
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story. Although very raw and emotional the story leaves one breathless. The story is tragic from beginning to end with very few bright spots. The pains of this family bring to light the hardness of life, destruction of war and the impact on every member of a family. I can't begin to enlighten people of the thoughts left behind by this story, but it is well worth the read.
Carol Erhardt
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wasn't expecting this to be such a depressing book. I kept hoping something good would happen, but given the subject matter, which was very vividly and realistically portrayed, there is no other way it could have been written. It tugged deeply at my soul.
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suellen by: Book Club
The author came and spoke.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A gripping story that captured my heart from the opening scene and stayed on my mind for days after I finished it.

Small As A Mustard Seed was one of the few books where I felt compelled to ignore everything else around me so I could read through the book until the end. This was probably because Johnson lures her readers in with a beautiful voice that wraps itself around your heart and pulls you in deeper and deeper until you’re so engrossed you can’t help but read on to know what happens next fo
John Paul Davis
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I think I need to start this review by highlighting that there is nothing I can possibly say that will even come close to doing this justice. Only by experiencing this novel first hand can one even begin to understand.

In essence, Small as a Mustard Seed is a 1st person narrative about a small girl growing up in a complicated middle American household in the 60s and 70s. The story is told through the eyes of young Ann-Marie Adler, older sister of artistically talented Jolene and daughter of Frank
Ginny Lakes
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This was an intense read. Johnson takes you through the lives of two little girls living with a father with a severe case of PTSD. Their mother is loyal to the father, but at a great cost. This is an emotional story about resentment and forgiveness and the powers of both.
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow... heavy stuff, but a fascinating & moving read.
rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2012
S.L. Coelho
rated it it was amazing
Apr 06, 2013
rated it it was ok
Apr 29, 2010
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Writer. Editor. Journalist. Novelist. Photographer. Dog lover. Truck owner. Horse rider. Yoga enthusiast. Slow-Cooker Fan.
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