Rating – 3 stars
Date Finished – January 4, 2017
3/120 in 2017
There are a lot of things I loved about this book – it’s a brutal and haunting story set in the North Carolina Appalachian mountains about a boy on the edge of being a man, fighting against family, geography, and drugs to be something different. There are moments that are simply beautiful, and I love the impact of this specific place – the way the mountains can trap everything, even light, and keep it from getting in or out.
All that said, the novel also left a lot to be desired. Maggie, who was supposed to be all the motivation for the protagonist to want to break away from his fate, wasn’t believable to me – she was nothing more than a device – as with every other woman in the story. Unfortunately, none of the female characters rang true at all, and that felt like a huge missed opportunity. It’s really a story about masculinity and a father/son relationship, and that’s fine, but we really don’t need any more novels about men in which women only exist as objects in relationship to the male characters.
I’m looking forward to reading more from David Joy – he’s a new and interesting voice in Appalachian literature, and if this debut is any indication, has a lot more to say.