Reviews of To and Fro Upon the Earth: A Novel

What does one do when it seems the entire universe stands against them? That is the world that Jay Adam inhabits in To and Fro Upon the Earth: A Novel. He does not give up easily. He makes the best of the situation, he listens to advice, and he works hard.

But when life keeps pummeling away, how strong can a person be? Is there a limit? If so, what will Jay do about it?

In this novel, McDowell expertly drills deep into the core of humanity and exposes a raw nerve–a painful discovery, but not without purpose. He creatively challenges his protagonist, Jay (and the reader!), to keep moving forward and embracing his life amidst the chaos of “thick darkness.” Can Jay piece his life back together? This novel addresses a question we all face at some point in our life: is there any beauty to be found in a dark place?

On a personal note, I was impacted by Jay Adam’s journey, and relate to his “thick darkness,” having sustained a serious concussion that literally put me into a dark place. I, too, have struggled to make sense of suffering, which has now propelled me into a present journey of grieving the losses. To and Fro Upon the Earth could not have come at a better time in my life.

–Linda Marie Zupancic
Writer & Editor
B.C., Canada

This novel shocked me. I believe I have a good sense for a book will contain, but nothing about this story was as it seemed or predictable. I had an ongoing theory throughout the entire book, that, at the end, Jay would wake up and realize everything that had happened to him had been a nightmare. When we look at ours lives, we don’t think about what could go wrong; we imagine the endless possibilities. McDowell takes those perceived notions and shatters them. I believe that this novel is a wake-up call to society’s view of order and stability.

–Courtney Hancock
Norman Park, Georgia

I love the use of flashbacks and dream sequences to explore Jay’s struggle and his issues of meaning and purpose. It was like an unfolding mystery, with a revelatory ending!

–Hannah Parson
Fremont, VA

A great read! From the first page, I found myself fascinated with Jay’s journey in both the past and present, and what he would find. His dreams (nightmares!) are enthralling.

–Laura Yarbo
New York

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