A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
2012 William Morrow
Finished on April 22, 2016
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
New York Times Bestseller - New York Times Notable Book of 2012 - Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance's Best Fiction of 2012 - Appalachian Writers' Association's Book of the Year - Crime Writers' Associations' Debut Novel of 2012 - Maine Readers' Choice Award - Thomas Wolfe Memorial Book Prize - Crook's Corner Book Prize for Debut Southern Novel - PEN Robert W. Bingham Award Finalist - Strand Magazine Critics Award Finalist for Debut of 2012 - Indies Choice Finalist for Debut of 2012 - Library Journal Top Ten Book of 2012 - Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 - Indie Next Pick - SIBA Okra Pick - Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection
Families are supposed to shield children from the horrors of the world, but one Sunday nine-year-old Jess Hall watches as his autistic brother is called into a little church in the mountains of North Carolina. What happens next forces Jess to question everything he once believed. Clem Barefield, the local sheriff, arrives to find a group of charismatic believers who are unwilling to utter a word about the things Jess has seen. At the center of the mystery is Carson Chambliss, a snake handling ex-convict turned preacher whose past is just as mysterious as the power he claims to possess.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters—Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, A Land More Kind than Home is a literary thriller, thick with characters connected by faith, infidelity, addiction, and a sense of hope that is as tragic as it is unforgettable. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.
I started listening to the audio version of this book a few years ago, but couldn't get interested in the story so I decided to call it quits. Earlier this spring while searching through my stacks, I came across the ARC of this novel and decided to give it another try since I fell in love with Cash's masterful storytelling after reading This Dark Road to Mercy. I'm so glad I gave it another chance; this one's a winner!
"Listen," he said again.Final Thoughts:
I dropped my head and closed my eyes just like I'd seen Joe Bill do, and for a minute I couldn't hear nothing at all except for a few birds fussing in the trees above us and the sound of the breeze coming through the dry grass, and after a minute I couldn't even hear that. But then, real slow, the singing of the crickets raised up out of the woods behind me and their chirping sounded like somebody was scratching a spoon across a clean dinner plate, and past that, across the railroad tracks on the other side of the woods, I could hear the river running slow toward Marshall, and it was so soft that I wondered if I was making it up or remembering the sound of it just because it was supposed to be there. Then I couldn't hear nothing until I turned my ears to listen for what was in front of me out there in the field where the grasshoppers and the katydids hummed in the high grass. That was a noise I'd always heard without even knowing I could hear it, and when I heard it, I could finally hear what Joe Bill was talking about. At first I heard it like a heartbeat, and I felt it in my chest like a heartbeat too, like it was inside my body thumping up against my ribs because it wanted to get out. It made me think about the Madison High marching band at the football games and the marchers with the drums strapped to their chests and the feeling you get inside you when they march out onto the field at halftime with the batons and the horns and the drums and all that noise they make. And now I could hear other noises floating just above the sound of that heartbeat: the electric guitar came out over the field like a crackly old radio that wasn't tuned in good, and the sound of somebody banging away on the piano followed behind it. All of a sudden I knew that what I was hearing was music, and when I opened my eyes I knew it was coming from inside the church. I looked over at Joe Bill.
"It's music." I said.
Reminiscent of The Homecoming of Samuel Lake (Jenny Wingfield) and Ordinary Grace (William Kent Krueger), this is sure to please fans of Southern fiction and lyrical mysteries. Highly recommend!