This book was provided to me by Tyndale. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. All opinions are my own.
Published by NavPress on January 9th 2018
Genres: Christian, Contemporary Women, Fiction, General, Small Town & Rural
A charming and engrossing novel for fans of Southern fiction and the recent hit memoir Hillbilly Elegy about a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?
1933. In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.
2004. Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.
What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.
Note: Kristin reads and reviews both Christian and secular fiction on A Simply Enchanted Life. Out of respect for my readers, I am including a content review. This content review will help you decide whether this book is suitable for you.
Christian or Secular: Christian
Sex: See below.
Violence: Domestic violence, sexual abuse and murder.
Trigger Warnings: Sexual violence against women is a topic in this book. A woman becomes pregnant and is beaten to death. A young child and her father are shot and killed.
Disclosure: This book deals with hard topics that some may find upsetting. Despite the theme, this book is appropriate for the Christian genre. There’s no foul language and the topic is handled as delicately as one can.
Sometimes you read a book and have to write the review right away. Other times, you need to think—to heal, to consider what the book was teaching you. This was such a book for me.
This book has a raw edge that I found unnerving. I was reminded of some of the classics—the ones that were so good at ripping your heart out and stomping on it. These were characters that I could love and a story so intriguing that I couldn’t put the book down.
The dual timeline flowed seamlessly between 2004 and 1933. There was no confusion as the author delicately shifted from past to present. I appreciated how easily the story transitioned—not abruptly but with a sense of nostalgia and regret.
The conclusion is one that I did not see coming. I read a lot of fiction and as a voracious reader—it’s fairly rare that I am surprised. I was delightfully stunned by the ending.
I really wanted to give this book a five. In fact, I changed my rating on Goodreads several times. I was so conflicted. Did I really like this story or was it amazing? I still feel uncertain and thus, I’m choosing to give this book a rating of 4.5. The reason for this is that a certain plotline seemed, “too good to be true.” View Spoiler »Ruby discovering her brother survived the brutal attack that killed their mother. « Hide Spoiler Though part of me was thrilled by this moment all the same.
I really did like this book and I would suggest it for others who don’t mind gritty, true-to-life Christian Fiction.