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 the 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).
Some readers enjoyed Cash's well-drawn characters and descriptive language:
Using three narrators, the author takes a single story and multiplies its impact, effectively building suspense by means of both structure and language. I found myself racing through the book to the next revelation and finished it in a single day (Michele W). Appalachian "folk voice" can be really difficult to capture yet so beautiful when done right (Barbie R). This book speaks powerfully and truthfully to the human condition with rich, honest characterizations and dialogue (Linda N). Wiley Cash has created unforgettable characters that are multidimensional (Viqui G).
While others were drawn to the story's suspense and mysterious Appalachian setting:
What a delightful book to review. Wiley Cash writes with such clarity that, as you turn the pages, you feel like you're stepping into beautiful North Carolina - a place where life flows at a much slower pace (Mona B). This is a book about family... and ultimately how hope might come from tragedy. It aptly reveals small-town rural Appalachian life and the social influence of religion on every aspect of society (Joyce K). The story is excellent, the tension builds chapter after chapter... it's very much recommended (Catherine H). This is a book that makes you think about religion and secrecy and how bad that combination can turn out to be. I was thinking about this story long after I finished the book. I look forward to future novels by Wiley Cash (Jennifer B).
However, a couple people found room for minor improvements:
The language of this book is evocative and the setting and characterizations felt authentic, but I found the character development slow and the narrative difficult to follow. Dividing the story telling between different narrators is not an unusual literary tool, but in this instance the transitions derailed the progress of the story and made it difficult for me to follow the narrative... I really wanted to like this book but, in the end, I could not get past the mechanics of the telling to just enjoy the story (Bette C). This novel leaves a number of questions unanswered - but that's its only weakness (Laura P).
But the majority of reviewers were as enthusiastic as Lesley M:
I enjoyed reading this book a great deal. The characters are well defined, and I felt as if I really knew and sympathized with them. The setting added to the plot of the story; stormy, gray and out of control. The pace of the novel moved along well, and I didn't want to put it down.
Who should read this book?:
A Land More Kind Than Home will make a very good book club selection, as it will spark intense discussions of a variety of themes: religion, family, love, and loss (V.W.). I highly recommend this novel for lovers of Southern fiction - it is deep, dark, and haunting (Teresa R). I recommend it for anyone who likes a tale with strong characters in a rural setting with a touch of suspense (Lesley M).
This review was originally published in May 2012, and has been updated for the January 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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