Friday, January 17, 2014

Wiley Cash Does it Again!

You've only got a couple more weeks to wait for the release of the much-anticipated sophomore novel by Wiley Cash, the young man who knocked our socks off with his debut,  A Land More Kind Than Home. I was stunned by its beauty and wrote about it here in 2012.

Cash has perfected the child's voice as narrator. In this case it's twelve-year-old Easter whose intelligence and wry wit remind me of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. She's a girl who's had to grow up quickly. Her dad disappeared when little sister Ruby was born and her mom died of an overdose while the girls were at school one day. Mr. Cash looks like such an optimistic, sunny young man but his writing comes from another, darker place.

Home right now for Ruby and Easter is a foster care facility, sure, not as bad as some of the ones we've seen exposes on but not a perfect situation either. So when their father tracks them down claiming that he was tricked into giving up his parental rights they desperately want to believe him. Why then, did he have to break into their room and kidnap them rather than go through the proper procedures?

You'll find out as you follow Wade, Easter and Ruby on a harrowing road trip throughout the Carolinas and points west. You see, Wade, always the slippery fast-talker, has a secret, one that his clever daughter Easter figures out early on. How much will she be willing to forgive in order to have a normal life with at least one parent? How much longer will she be able to protect Ruby from the truth about their dad and the men who are on their trail for various reasons.

Wiley Cash's young characters are placed in positions no young person should have to face. Moral decisions that would give an older person pause face Easter every day. We reviewers are always using terms like "the resilience of the human spirit," or "the resilience of children," to describe the ways in which kids seem to rise above their circumstances. I sometimes wonder if we aren't being overly optimistic in these assumptions. After all, someone is filling all those psychologists' offices. Someone is taking that gun to school and blowing his friends away.

Though not the stunning tour-de-force of his first book, This Dark Road to Mercy is still a novel that book groups will be clamoring to discuss and a worthy addition to Mr. Cash's repertoire.


Jessica said...

Sounds like I should read him before he comes to the RF!

Sallyb said...

Very happy that he'll be coming. Tweeted about it earlier today.