- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (April 17, 2012)
- ISBN-10: 0062088149
- Source: Author
Nine-year-old Jesse Hall and his older, mute brother Christopher “Stump” live in the small town of Marshall, North Carolina. Jesse is very protective of Stump, a child who hasn’t spoken a word all his life. Attempting to sneak into their home after being out past their curfew, they witness something no child should ever see. This incident forces Jesse to face adult situations far beyond his years, in a sense, forcing him into adulthood.
The citizens of Marshall all look up to and revere their small town pastor, Chambliss. Like all people, he doesn’t deserve the lofty respect handed to him by his parishioners. He uses the church to satisfy his own needs, literally. His past is full of controversy, acts he’s performed in the name of religion, including snake-handling and “faith” healing. When his influence falls down upon Jesse and Stump’s mother, the repercussions are deadly and long-lasting.
Told by the voices of three individuals: sweet and naive Jesse; Adelaide, the town’s midwife who has for years tried to protect the town’s children from the grasp of Chambliss; and Clem Barefield, the town sheriff, the individual forced to deal with the tragedy that unleashes upon this small town. The variance of the voices didn’t add confusion, but instead allowed the reader to see multiple viewpoint, varying levels of participation in the story. We are granted unique access into the minds of these characters, their experiences and influence on the situations that take place within the story.
Cash has a gift for writing, each word builds upon one another to create, in whole, a work of art. Following is just one example:
What I took for being roots were actually stories and lies and promises that festered deep in Julie’s heart to where there wasn’t anything anybody could do to pry them loose. Those thick limbs and branches that kept Julie and Ben from seeing each other when they needed to the most weren’t nothing but arms and fingers that held Julie back, covered her eyes, and took her hand and led her to a place she never had no intention of going.
This skill Cash holds allows us, the reader, to get inside the culture of a small town, one hidden from the influence of other communities, one bound by its own beliefs. It’s not often that I come across a genuine American novel, one that portrays life so adequately and realistically.
A Land More Kind Than Home is a book I couldn’t put down, forcing me to put my life on hold until I finished reading it. I read it in one sitting and the moment I turned the last page, I wanted to pick it up and start it all over again. The characters will hold a lifelong position in my heart, their story continues to resonate within my soul, weeks after reading the book. Without a doubt, this book will top my list of favorite books of the year. Highly recommended.
Tags: 1980s, Literary Fiction, North Carolina, religion, small town, Thriller, William Morrow