A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash
Published: 2012 by William Morrow
Source: Received advance reader’s copy **
I rarely like to define a book as a page turner, because I think it is an odd term – turning the page is necessary for any and all books, no? A better way to describe a book would be the speed at which one turns the pages. A Land More Kind than Home for me was a book where I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
The novel is set in rural North Carolina in the not too distant past (1970s or 80s if I had to guess) and is told from the perspective of three characters: Adelaide Lyle, an elderly woman who is the town’s unofficial midwife; Jess Hall, a nine year old boy who seems wise beyond his years; and Clem Barefield, the town sheriff. All three narrators describe a tragic event in the community that involve Jess’ mute older brother Christopher (known as Stump), the boys’ mother, and the pastor of the local church, Carson Chambliss; and each bring memories of past events and personal histories to light in explaining what has happened in the present.
The story is not a happy one by any means, but Wiley Cash writes it so well that I wanted to keep on reading even when I thought I couldn’t take any more sadness (much like when I read Wingshooters). Especially with young Jess, I felt so closely to the characters and their narration, and I absolutely felt a part of the bleak landscape that he describes.
As the story uses religion as a main theme, and because he was such a key character, I would have liked to read more about Carson Chambliss and his origins, because for me I don’t think they were properly explained. But that is a minor quibble, because I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it highly.
** When I occasionally receive advance reader’s copies of books, they are usually from the publisher for review consideration and/or for participation in a blog tour. In this case, however, I was given this ARC by the owner of my local independent bookstore, Read Between the Lynes. She could have just told me about the book and recommended it for me to buy, but instead she simply passed on the book after she finished it, saying “I loved it and I think you will too.” That is the great benefit of indie bookstores – where the staff knows you enough (and trusts you enough) to do something like this. Though they didn’t make a sale on this transaction, she knows that I will be back into the store to make other purchases, just as I have done for the last three years.