A Land More Kind Than Home
By Wiley Cash
(William Morrow Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780062088239, Jan 2013, 336pp.)
The Short of It:
While this story had me sitting on the edge of my seat, wondering how it would all end, it fell flat for me.
The Rest of It:
It’s garnered a lot of praise so I was a little surprised when I closed the book and felt less than impressed. But in all honestly, this book has everything that I normally enjoy in a book, but perhaps it had to do with timing. I had just finished a rather meaty book and the other book was still bouncing around in my head. Perhaps this contributed to my feelings over this book?? Either way, I’ll try to give it a fair shake here.
Jess and Christopher live in the small town of Marshall. Jess is the adventurous one and very protective of his mute, older brother Christopher. Christopher, thought to be slower than the other boys is often called Stump and when Stump witnesses something he shouldn’t, the results are disastrous for all involved.
The story is told by multiple narrators, Jess, Adelaide Lyle, the town’s midwife and Clem Barefield, the sheriff. As the midwife, Adelaide delivered many of the town’s children and because of that, she knows most of the kids and is familiar with their families. At least enough to know how they tick. When the town’s pastor, Carson Chambliss performs a snake charming ritual that goes wrong, Adelaide takes it upon herself to move the children to a separate Sunday school in order to protect them from what is going on in the main church. It’s clear from her actions, that although she doesn’t approve of what Chambliss is preaching, she is trying to respect his beliefs and the beliefs of others. But even with protection, something goes terribly wrong and Jess is left to deal with the heartache.
I think the main problem I had with this story is that I felt as if I was reading the story from a distance. I never really felt as if I got to know any of the characters, except perhaps Adelaide. She rang the most true to me out of the bunch and I enjoyed reading her parts of the story. The other thing that I didn’t care for, that I rarely care for in any book, is the strong religious aspect. I am a believer, but this book bordered on fanaticism and I just didn’t care for it.
What I liked though, and what I felt worked, were the alternating chapters. Had my brain been free to really focus on this book, I think I would have enjoyed it more as I did feel moments of intense emotion but in the end, it never hit the “love” mark for me.
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