Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: “A Land More Kind Than Home” @WileyCash


Take a young boy with autism who has ‘seen too much’ and add one manipulative preacher that has the boy’s mother under his spell.  Nothing good can come from that combination, and I have to admit, I couldn’t wait to read this book.  I expected the subject matter to be enough to make it interesting.  What I didn’t expect was the emotional journey the author took me on, and how the story would stay with me long after the reading. 
    
In “A Land More Kind Than Home”, Wiley Cash transports the reader to a small, Southern town and into the lives of Jess and Christopher “Stump” Hall, two young boys whose mother is a member of a church ran by Pastor Carson Chambliss.   When Stump sees his mother, Julie, in bed with the pastor, Chambliss decides it is time to free Stump of the demons that are at the root of his autism.  In the process of trying to heal Stump, he is killed.

In the first chapter, Adelaide Lyle, the town midwife, describes the church and Pastor Chambliss in a way that immediately lets the reader know this is not your average church:

“I’d seen people I’d known just about my whole life pick up snakes and drink poison, hold fire up to their faces just to see if it would burn them... Chambliss convinced them it was safe to challenge the will of God. He made them think it was all right to take that dare if they believed." 
 
And from there, the reader is constantly asking questions that cannot be answered. 
   
Wiley Cash, Kelly Gamble and Suzi Shumaker
Cash's choice of narrators is one of the most brilliant aspects of this book.  Adelaide has a history with the church, Chambliss and all of the characters, yet she isn't present at Stump's death and is unaware of the other events that lead to it.  Sheriff Clem Barefield, who has a story of his own, is looking from the outside, and Jess Hall, Stump's younger brother, isn't mature enough to understand everything that has taken place.  The reader never hears the thoughts of the evil Pastor Chambliss or Julie Hall, the one we would really like to sit down with and ask how she let this happen.  In other words, Cash didn't give us everything, and in doing so, the story stays with you long after that last page.

Without giving a spoiler, I have to say the ending was heart breaking and when I first read it, a bit shocking.  Now that I've thought about it more in depth (didn't I say it sticks with you?), it is disturbing in a way that something you can't quite understand tends to confuse you even more (kind of like how this paragraph has probably just confused you even more :).  This is a book to read with your friends and discuss later---and the more opinions the better.
        
A beautifully written, tug-at-the-heart story for everyone.

Visit Wiley Cash at  wileycash.com
Follow him on Twitter @WileyCash
Buy "A Land More Kind Than Home"

Also, check out my mini rant about Julie Hall, the mother character in "A Land More Kind Than Home" on Suzi Shumaker's blog 

16 comments:

Lorca Damon said...

Sounds intriguing. There are some fascinating non-fiction accounts of these "fringe pastors" and their churches, so I would love to read about where a gifted fiction writer can take us down that road.

Raine Thomas said...

This book is outside of my typical reading genre, but you've definitely made it sound enticing. Talk about a range of subject matter all rolled into one story--wow!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Well worth the read, Lorca.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Step out of the norm, Raine! This one is worth it. Good old fashioned story telling.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Not my usual fare, but you are tempting me...

Amberr Meadows said...

This one appeals to me. I have a love of southern fried books. Has nothing to do with being from GA, right?

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I'd love to hear your opinion of this one, Ciara. Really, the ending is one for discussion.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Amberr, I can see you getting all fired up about this one like I did. LOL

debrakristi said...

Wow. You've really tempted me. I may have to get this one. Color me intrigued.

D.C. said...

This sounds like a brilliant book, Kelly. Right up my alley. I will put it on my To Read list.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Intriguing, haunting, sad---a lot of adjectives for this one, Debra.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Let me know after you read it, DC. I'd love to know what you think.

Rachel Thompson said...

Sounds amazing! and I totally trust your opinion, Groovy Girl. Will pick up today.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

That was easy! I also have a house for sale in Vegas...:)

Charlieopera said...

Terrific read. Couple more reviews here:

http://menreadingbooks.blogspot.com/2012/06/land-more-kind-than-home-by-wiley-cash.html

http://temporaryknucksline.blogspot.com/2012/04/book-reviews-land-more-kind-than-home.html

JustinBog said...

Great review, and I'll place it on my to-be-read Jenga stack the very next moment . . . the characters sound so interesting, and that's what draws me to a book.