Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Book Look: The Lost Saints of Tennessee

Think of all the changes that have blasted our world from the 1940s to the 1980s. Now add in a conflicted family experiencing those changes with a story told through two narrators: Ezekiel Cooper (42) and his mother, Lillian. The book follows the growth of Ezekiel. He has lost everything: his twin (dead); his wife (divorce); his daughters (because of divorce); his mother (old age and dementia). He takes to the road to free himself of his demons, traveling as far east as he can from his native home to Virginia. He brings only his brother's old dog, a truck, and a book. Once Zeke finds his cousins in Virginia, he quits running away and begins running towards a new self. His story is told with energy and compassion. Best of all, the story is held in balance because Lillian also narrates. She knows more of the family secrets than any of the others. The choices she makes, to speak or stay silent, woo the reader into the world of a family straitjacketed by grief. "The Lost Saints of Tennessee" is a classic family story with beauty and heartbreak abounding. The hours spent reading this lovely book by Amy Franklin-Willis will beguile you into a world familiar (family secrets) and astounding (settings, voice of characters). Lemon cookies, honeysuckle, blackberries from the bush, the old country life turns into a dead-end job and a dead-end marriage until Zeke finds his way home.

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