Summary and book reviews of Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

Amity & Sorrow

by Peggy Riley

Amity & Sorrow
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2014, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Book Summary

Amity & Sorrow is a story about God, sex, and farming. It's an unforgettable journey into the horrors a true believer can inflict upon his family, and what it is like to live when the end of the world doesn't come.

A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she's convinced will follow them wherever they go - her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can't imagine what the world holds outside their father's polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley's abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, Amity & Sorrow is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.



1
The Red Country

Amity watches what looks like the sun. An orange ball spins high above her on a pole, turning in a hot, white sky. It makes her think of home and the temple; it makes her feel it is she who is spinning, turning about in a room filled with women, their arms raised, their skirts belling out like moons. She thinks how the moon will go bloodred and the sun turn black at the end of the world. She is watching for it still.

"Amity!" Her mother calls her back to earth, back to the gas station and the heat and the hard-baked ground, beckoning from beneath the metal canopy that shades the pumps. "Did you find anyone?" Amity walks back to her, sees that there is dried blood on her mothers face and figures she must have some, too, but neither of them can get into the bathroom to wash. The door is locked.

"I found a man," Amity says. "I talked to him."

"It's okay. I told you to. What did he say?"

The bathroom door is marked with a stick lady wearing a triangle ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How are names used as metaphors in the novel?
  2. What is the meaning behind how names are given (i.e., attribute names for the children and the family name shared by the Bradleys of Oklahoma), and do you think they serve a purpose?
  3. How does the writer explore the bond between Sorrow and Amity? In what ways is their relationship typical of the bond between sisters?
  4. The children in the polygamous community were illiterate. What are the implications and impact of that type of ignorance? Is a faith that is designed to keep its believers ignorant and isolated a "true" faith?
  5. How can blind faith be dangerous? Was Sorrow brainwashed or devout?
  6. Who defines what makes a family, and is there a ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Amity and Sorrow is a highly fulfilling read about mothers and daughters, the nature of family, the complexity of relationships, of faith lost and found, of courage and new beginnings. I think women might enjoy this story more easily than men, but I would recommend this book for any adult who enjoys good storytelling, complex, well-drawn characters, and exquisite, lyrical writing.   (Reviewed by Sharry Wright).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Fierce and disturbing.... Riley's debut novel is a harsh but compassionate look at nature vs. nurture through the lens of a polygamous cult

Booklist

Starred Review. [An] accomplished, harrowing debut.... Riley's descriptive prose is rich in metaphor.... [and] the haunting literary drama simmers to a boil as it deftly navigates issues of family, faith, community, and redemption.

Author Blurb Lori Lansens, author of The Girls
Amity and Sorrow, grace and hope, honor and innocence, bliss and deliverance - all of this from one beautifully nuanced story about the nature of family and the power of faith. I savored every word.

Author Blurb Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind
A beautiful and terrifying book. Peggy Riley tells a complex and enthralling tale of family love and religious belief with uncommon wisdom, grace, and skill.

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

Amity & Sorrow
Cults, members of cults, a mother and her two daughters, a farmer in Oklahoma and his somewhat adopted son, Rust,and an old man, these are the characters that make up this debut novel. I found the writing addictive, this novel taught me more than any...   Read More

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Predicting the End of the World

The end is nigh!

Or so has been the claim for many years. And despite a success rate of zero, people continue to make passionate end of the world predictions, looking for the Apocalypse in just about every major turn of events from Y2K to Weapons of Mass Destruction to the ending of the Mayan Calendar. In fact, according to a survey taken in 2001 by the Barna Research Group, forty percent of Americans at that point believed that supernatural intervention would lead to the eventual end of the world.

The first recorded end of the world prediction came in 634 BCE. Over subsequent years, there have been many, many more. What follows is just a sampling.

  • In 365 CE, a man named Hilary of Poitiers announced that the world would end ...

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