I feel as though I just went on a journey into the deep. Younts is an author to watch. Her writing style was poetic and beautiful. Her choice of words, placing them together, and the detail she provides is just exceptional. Sometimes it felt like her words floated to the heart.
For me this wasn't an afternoon read. Gosh, it isn't that happy go lucky read. No, this isn't that lighthearted read to escape the world. This novel takes you deep. It's raw and transparent. It moved me.
We travel back in time to the year of 1956. We are heading to the deep south where there are no longer any signs of "Black only" or "White only". It doesn't have to be written. One just knows.
Two families. Secrets. A past they can't seem to unravel. They can't run far enough from God. Amish, white, and black.
I just want to share with you the first paragraph: "My skin was the same color as the soil. I pushed my hands into the ground and it had hardened some since my visit a week earlier. My hands barely left a dent when I lifted them. I put them back and pressed harder. Tiny bright-green blades of grass were growing and the dirt didn't look so newly turned over no more. Made me mad. Grass growing over my boy's grave. Should have known it would happen quick in Alabama spring without no shade overhead. Still wasn't ready to see the ground looking so settled in just a month." These words are from Delilah. She just buried her son. She's filled with such anger and hate. Her husband is a preacher. They have a family of children. But one is no longer present with them. The circumstances surrounding his death have not touched his mama's ears. She didn't want to know the details. She's pushing everything and everyone away as her heart hardens deep without her wound.
They move from Alabama to Pennsylvania. Things should be different here. We journey with Delilah and her family to this new place, a dream, but life is hard for this family. But this is where we meet Emma. She's Amish, has her own family, and her own set of trials that is wearing on her. Here's a little from Emma: "Secret hive, whispering wind-no-breeze. Swaying branches, dancing trees. I repeated the words over and over in my mind. I didn't want to forget them. My fingers thrummed against my knee, itching for the pencil and paper I had at home. What would come next? What would it be like to have the freedom of trees?"
Delilah and Emma are two of the main characters of this book, but Sparrow, is the character that breaks my heart and takes me to that mama place where I just want to wrap my arms around her. Here's a few of her words: "When I saw the lady's watery eyes, it was like I was looking back at myself. It wasn't that she looked like me-she was white-but she got this something in her eyes that I got since Carver been killed. It made me get fidgety and I started to rub the puffy scar on my finger. I got it on the day we buried Carver when I smashed my small mirror against the porcelain sink. I couldn't stand to see myself in it. Didn't like the way it felt now neither so I looked away. That's when I saw the rest of her."
This novel travels from these three characters, but through them we meet others. These are people I will never forget. Their stories are raw filled pain that overtakes everything about them. They are lost in their grief and so wanting to heal, to find relief, but that solace just isn't there.
But these characters connect in ways that is just breathtaking. They form a friendship that fills them with something new, something unexpected. No one can understand what they have together. They shouldn't be friends. They should remain with their own kind.
Oh, I loved this book! I love when an author uses their gift to take readers to a place they have never experienced. But when they close the last page they feel as though they have exchanged shoes and walked a journey unknown. This was that book for me. If you are looking for something deep and something that will move you I certainly hope you choose to grab up this gem.
This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you.
Elizabeth Byler Younts gained a worldwide audience through her first book, Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl, and is a RITA nominated writer. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable. Visit her online at: ElizabethBylerYounts.com