50 in 2013: Book One

A Land More Kind Than HomeA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The tale of two brothers, Jess and Christopher “Stump” Hall, and the various repercussions that come with seeing things that are meant to be seen. Curiosity can lead to answers and adventure, but also danger. Some questions aren’t meant to be answered, especially by the naive investigation of children. One stolen peek into a window changes the paths of the Hall boys’ lives forever…

The eccentric and slightly mysterious Carson Chambliss immediately takes over the church in the small town of Asheville following the prior pastor’s death. He takes down signs, covers the windows with newspaper, and pens a simple verse in black paint on a small sign outside. Those drawn in, stay. Those who question or remain skeptical, stay far away.

Ben and Julie Hall’s marriage changed the day Stump was born. He never cried. He was quiet. Too quiet. Time would soon reveal he was mute. Ben understood Stump’s quiet ways, often relating, while Julie believed she could bring the words out of him. She also believed in Pastor Chambliss.

Adelaide Lyle had called Asheville home long enough to know all there was to know about the small town’s inhabitants. She knew Ben Hall as a child. She knew the church before it was overhauled by Carson Chambliss. She helped bring Stump Hall into this world. And she knew her town well enough to know when trouble was in the air.

On a hot September night, the life stories of Jess, Stump, Pastor Chambliss, Ben, Julie, and Adelaide all intersect with an ending that ultimately teaches two of the small town’s residents that “it’s a good thing to see that people can heal after they’ve been broken, that they can change and become something different from what they were before.”

Slow moving in parts, I found many of the story lines to be incredibly poignant: the repercussions of a child’s curiosity and how it can change his life in unforeseen ways, the resonating effect of a parent’s decision, the power of restoration, and the gripping control of revenge. The first book this year to keep and hold my attention the whole way through.

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