Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"A Land More Kind Than Home" by Wiley Cash

I've been in a reading rut. Nothing I've read recently really excites me. In fact, I went back and looked, and I think Cloud Atlas, in June, was the last book that I really got excited about (Gone Girl almost had me, but the ending turned me off). So, into this slump comes A Land More Kind Than Home, which is an engaging and well-written book with a good pace and interesting characters. Nonetheless, it too did little to move me.

Perhaps that's because there's not a whole lot of new ground in Cash's novel. The piece centers on the Hall family and the "healing" at the church of the mother, Julie Hall, which results in the death of her mute son Christopher "Stump" Hall. The book is narrated by Jess, Stump's younger brother; Clem, the town's sheriff; and Adelaide, an elderly woman who cares for the church children. There's a fanatical and evil minister, Carson Chambliss, and a drunk grandfather Hall. There's small town quietness and the sheriff's old wounds. Despite Stump being at the center of what happens, the reader gets very little idea of who he is. Instead, the book focuses on others' reactions to his death and the relationships that crumble or develop as a result.

Again, it was enjoyable to read and all, but I just find myself with nothing to say now that's it done. The novel is actually a book club pick for December, and I'm not quite sure how we'll sustain an hour or two of discussion on it.

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