Set in the 1930s Alabama, this story is about a family – father, a mine worker; mother, a housewife; and three children – Virgie, Tess and Jack. One evening, Tess witnesses a woman throw a baby into her family’s well. At first, everyone dismisses her claims, blaming her keen imagination. Things turn around though, as they discover a baby’s body the next day. The rest of the story is woven around showing the readers how the characters’ perspectives change with regard to everything happening around them.
What caught my attention enough to want to pick up this book was the storyline. I couldn’t imagine any good reason for having a baby thrown into a well and I wanted to know more. And I must admit that, from that angle this book didn’t do any justice. The thing to remember before reading this book is to not expect this big incident that happens in the beginning to be the main focus of the novel. The book starts off with a bang with such a big episode, but if you keep your hopes high on that one thing carrying on throughout the book and ending it with a big revelation, then you are probably in for a disappointment. While it sets the scene for the rest of the story to take place, it is just one of the threads that weave this book together – and once you understand that and realign your expectations, then you are in for a great read.
The book sheds light on the family, its members, and the struggles of the times that they live in. The story is narrated in first person by each of the five main characters’ point of views…so readers get to understand what goes on in each one of their minds with respect to all that is happening around them. The times are not easy…the book is set in Depression. Even though the family not poverty struck as some of their neighbors are, they still have to try hard to make ends meet, especially when emergency strikes and they have not much savings to rely on. The parents do their best to provide a loving home for their children even during the hardest of times. And that love is something that comes out so beautifully throughout the story.
The writing is simple and beautiful. The characters are well-developed. And the flow is well paced. The imagery the author puts forward is so vivid and powerful – that is the one thing that kept me hooked to the book and that’s what I missed once I finished reading it.
Overall, this book, driven by its characters, the time that it was set in more so than the story itself, is a poignant read.
My rating: 4*.
*for the rating scale, click here.