Barbaree’s novel is set in Alabama in the early 1900s when insects called boll weevils attacked cotton crops, forcing farmers to grow peanuts instead. People were eventually able to see the pests as a blessing, erecting a statue in the bugs’ honor in 1919; the statue still stands today.
In a bizarre twist, Barbaree had actually met Pourciau three months before the shooting and promised her that her “southern-sounding” name would be featured in the book. He now says that Christlike actions of Pourciau is exactly what he meant to portray in the novel.
"I began searching and reading stories about Bonnie Kate and the incident. There was one where she was quoted as saying she had forgiven the gunman for what he had done to her. And then in another she was expressing her steadfast faith
, knowing how God would take this tragedy in her life and turn it into something good. I was moved to tears and also shocked, realizing I had met someone who was exemplifying with her words the very themes God had inspired me write throughout my novel, which are; The importance of forgiveness and also how God can turn even our worst tragedy into a blessing,” Barbaree said.
"That little bug was a curse. It placed the South in a hardship like it had not experienced since the Civil War. But if you follow the story you will clearly see God's hand of providence being revealed through people, including George Washington Carver, and how He used them to turn something that was so devastating into an enormous blessing."
Publication date: July 21, 2014