Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dispatch From The Fields: Joe Took Time Off Spring Seeding To Praise This Book
The author of the wonderful A Land More Kind Than Home is back with his second novel. He begins this one in Western North Carolina, the same locale as his first novel. Two young girls, Easter and Ruby Quillby, live with their mother, who suddenly dies. They are sent to foster care under the care of ex-cop, Brady Weller. The girls' father, who was a minor league baseball player back when Sammy Sosa was getting his start, long ago relinquished his rights to his daughters, but his back and hoping to raise them. Wade Chesterton, their father, is in trouble of his own, with a man named Robert Pruitt after him to even a grudge. When Wade realizes he can't have the girls legally, he takes them on a grand adventure, first to the Atlantic Coast in Charleston, SC, then to St. Louis, to see Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa battle it out for the most home runs.

Most likely, in another author's hands, this tale would quickly become unwieldy and listless. Luckily, Wiley Cash decides to tell the story from three perspectives: the older girl, Easter, Brady Weller, and Pruitt. It is in these three distinct voices that this novel comes to life. It is a compulsively told story that I honestly had a difficult time putting down. The relationship between protective older sister, Easter, and curious (yet wise) younger Ruby is one of the most vivid and realistic pairs of sisters I have encountered in literature recently. Brady Weller has a chip on his shoulder, and sees helping these two girls as a way to right many of the wrongs in his life. Robert Pruitt is a shockingly violent man who manages to come across as fully human: flawed, yet trying to do what he thinks is best (for him.)

As I roared through the novel, I craved to know what would happen next, and as not disappointed at all, as the novel came to a close. Wiley Cash is a fantastic new voice, honoring the personal story-telling of the south, while bringing to life the characters in the stories. I am looking forward to whatever else he writes.


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