A stunning debut reminiscent of the beloved novels of John Hart and Tom Franklin, A Land More Kind Than Home is a mesmerizing literary thriller about the bond between two brothers and the evil they face in a small western North Carolina town.
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when your mother catches you spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is enormously protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can't help sneaking a look at something he's not supposed to - an act that will have catastrophic repercussions, shattering both his world and Jess's. It's a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he's not prepared. While there is much about the world that still confuses him, he now knows that a new understanding can bring not only a growing danger and evil - but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance as well.
Told by three resonant and evocative characters - Jess; Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife and moral conscience; and Clem Barefield, a sheriff with his own painful past - A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all. These are masterful portrayals, written with assurance and truth, and they show us the extraordinary promise of this remarkable first novel.
I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what it was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavor you could think of, hard candy by the quarter pound, moon pies and crackerjack and other things I hadn't thought about tasting in years. And if I'd closed my eyes I could've seen what the building had been forty or fifty years before that, back when I was a young woman: a screen door slamming shut, oil lamps lit and sputtering black smoke, dusty horses hitched to the posts out front where the iceman unloaded every Wednesday afternoon, the last stop on his route before he headed up out of the holler, the bed of his truck an inch deep with cold water. Back before Carson ...
With 31 out of 32 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Wiley Cash's debut, A Land More Kind Than Home, is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
A Land More Kind Than Home is, without a doubt, one of absolute BEST books that I have read. It is so compelling... so beautifully written, I found myself going over most of it twice - once for the gripping story and again for the language. His words are just so mesmerizing (Debra C). Included in the mix: snake handling, a church closed off to the public with paper on the windows, a child caught in the midst of adult drama, and a sheriff fighting demons of his own. Wiley Cash is able to create a tension that both enthralls and exasperates (Becky M). The writing is exceptional; the descriptions, evocative of time and place; the voices, pitch perfect. From the first sentence, this was a book I couldn't put down. It is an amazing first novel (Dorothy M). Do yourself a favor and read this book! It's a must-read and a story that I will not soon forget (Daniel A). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
Full Review (1289 words).
In a letter to readers, Wiley Cash describes what it was like working with the inspirational Ernest J. Gaines at a fiction workshop in Lafayette, Louisiana. He writes:
I began writing A Land More Kind Than Home while working on my Ph.D. at the University of Louisiana, where I spent five long years sweating, celebrating Mardi Gras, and missing the mountains of North Carolina. While living in Lafayette, I took a fiction workshop with Ernest J. Gaines, who taught me that by writing about home I could recreate that place no matter where I lived. Gaines made this clear to me one afternoon while we were visiting an old cemetery near the plantation where he was born. He pointed to a grave marker and said, "You remember Snookum from A ...
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