A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Five words from the blurb: autistic, violence, tragic, religion, family
A Land More Kind Than Home is set in North Carolina and follows the family of Christopher, an autistic boy who is murdered during a church service. The book is based on real events and reveals the shocking way in which some people use religion to justify their horrific actions.
The pace was perfect and it was packed with atmosphere, allowing the reader to become immersed in southern American life.
The characters were well drawn and I felt a deep empathy for the entire family. My only criticism is that the book focused on the grieving family. Their reaction to the murder of Christopher was sensitively portrayed and moving, but I longed to hear from the other members of the congregation. I wanted to know how they felt about the murder of a child and why they allowed it to happen in front of their eyes. Hearing things from the point-of-view of the murderer would also have added another dimension to the story.
The story was engaging, but its simplicity meant that I ended the book feeling a little disappointed. I’m afraid I like my books to be a little more complex.
Signs of Life by Anna Raverat
Five words from the blurb: affair, memory, incomplete, control, truth
Signs of Life is narrated by Rachel. Ten years ago she had an affair that went terribly wrong. The book reveals what happened all those years ago in a narrative so gripping it was impossible to put down.
The plot was fast paced, with hints as to what happened sprinkled through the text. The narrative jumped forwards and backwards in time, but the story was easy to follow and although it was sometimes deliberately misleading, I was never confused as to what was happening.
The writing was simple and direct, but there were a few deeper thoughts to keep literary fiction fans happy.
Unfortunately everything went downhill at the end. The build-up was fantastic, but the final few pages left me asking “Is that it?” I was expecting something something much more complex/clever.
If you loved Before I Go to Sleep then I suspect you’ll enjoy this, but I’m afraid I was a little disappointed.