Two Gripping Reads

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A Land More Kind Than Home

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.

“Then you should know Matthew 9:33.” he said. “If you know your Bible, then you should know it says that ‘when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke.’ And I reckon you should probably know Matthew 17 too, about the man who brought his son to Jesus because he was sick with a disease brought on by a demon and the disciples didn’t have the faith enough to heal him.”
“I know both of them stories,” I said. “I’ve read them both many, many times.”
“They ain’t no stories,” he said. “You can believe me when I tell you that.” This book was captivating throughout.

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.

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Signs of Life

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.

“I don’t know where the line is between passion and obsession but I think obsession is passion that gets stuck.
Perhaps boundaries are like horizons; not fixed, they move as you move, like the end of the rainbow. It’s like trying to see when water turns to steam – you can never find that precise moment.

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.

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