My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every now and then a gem comes along and you want to show everyone around you your good fortune at having found it. This novel is such a gem.
There’s a certain musicality to the language as the mountain air is pure and the conditions are bad. The story is told from ten points of view, with Sadie Blue being the central character. Vividly drawn, the characters leap off the page. You see the goings on in little Baines Creek, a town in Appalachia. It is a town in which moonshine is a thriving business, men misunderstand Ephesians 5:22-23 and the women are left to pick up the pieces.
This novel explores a town steeped in such poverty its hard to remember that its set in 1970’s and not in the 1930’s. Its as if the Great Depression never lifted for Baines Creek. Seventeen year old Sadie Blue finds herself in the family way to Roy Tupkin, probably the worst guy in the town. We follow her story from their marriage to the point in which, seventy-one days later, Sadie finally understands that she deserves better than the domestic violence that she is enduring. We are told her story through the eyes of nine other characters, each very different from the next, who give us insight into the world in which Sadie lives. We hear from Sadie’s grandmother, older, wiser friends, a teacher, a preacher a child and a quirky old ‘witch’ and even Roy himself.
This novel gives an authentic slice of Appalachian life with a constant dialect and language. It takes some getting used to, but ‘won’t’ instead of the word ‘weren’t’ keeps the voices and language clear in your head. The characters feel real as does the story. Weiss has written a brilliant debut novel. She makes an unknowable community very real. Her work is sure of itself, grave and comical all at once. It made me ache to reach out to the community as the teacher Kate does, trying to make a difference to a place that time forgot.
I eagerly await Leah Weiss’ next book.
Publication date, August 2017.
I received an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.