Carolinamountainlife autumn2016

Page 72

Book Nook

Where We Fall by Rochelle B. Weinstein. Lake Union Publishing, Seattle 2016. This is indeed a story of falling: in love, out of love, and over the edge. As longtime college friends Lauren, Ryan and Abby leave to pursue their careers, an unexpected sequence of events drives one away, leaving the other two locked in a painful and unrewarding relationship with no way out in sight. Walking with Abby as she struggles with depression is particularly moving and insightful. The first person narrative for the central characters brings the reader an intimate understanding of each of their motives. The plot builds smoothly and the characters are genuine, although they don’t always behave that way. The drama is delivered subtly, with no wasted words and just the right amount of description. You’ll enjoy the rising tension as you try to discover just what happened to force these people apart. And since it’s set in Banner Elk and Beech Mountain, you’ll recognize all the local landmarks, including Woolly Worm. With so many threads and elements, this would be an excellent choice for a readers’ club discussion.


Family of Earth: a Southern Mountain Childhood by Wilma

Dykeman. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 2016. If you have read any of Dykeman’s writing you will recognize in this work her kinship to the North Carolina Mountains and their rivers. Designed as a memoir, this book is written in chapters representing each year of Dykeman’s life growing up in Buncombe County, beginning surprisingly enough with accounts from her birth year and ending at age fourteen with the death of her beloved father. This introspective work was begun in the author’s mid-twenties but never published, and was only discovered after her death in 2006 at the age of 86. Her writing is pungent, earthy and raw yet at the same time elegant as she describes growing up an only child with mostly nature as her inspiration and companion. No doubt this deepened her understanding of the needs of the environment, both the physical and the social, as can be seen in her later non-fiction such as The French Broad (1955) and Neither Black nor White (1957). Family of Earth is a quick read that will leave you wishing Dykeman had written more.

Dark Debts by Karen Hall. Simon and Schuster, New York 2016. Hall first published this complex, fast-moving novel in 1996, and now, twenty years later, she has re-written the cast and the ending. But “dark” is still the theme. In the book’s opening, newspaper reporter Randi gets a phone call from her old more-than-friend Cam shouting “I’m in trouble that I didn’t even know existed!” and from there, the reader meets Cam’s brother Jack, who is in hiding with a dark and dangerous secret. In parallel, conflicted Jesuit priest Michael meets fifteen-year-old Danny and moves through the channels of the Catholic Church to resolve Danny’s problem, and in the process learns the dark truth about his own family’s past. How Hall weaves these characters’ lives together in a South Georgia setting takes you on a complicated journey through Catholic principles, exorcism, half-formed beliefs and shaken faith. And after all the darkness, the author pulls it together in the last line: “But something had shifted, and hope no longer felt like a punishable offense.”