Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
The Best Fiction I Read in 1999!
on December 6, 1999
Just when I was beginning to be bored with all the new fiction coming down the pike, I picked up a copy of "Grace at Bender Springs." What a wonderful surprise this book was! "Grace" takes an intimate look at the lives and spiritual struggles of the residents of a small town in a way that is refreshing, authentic and hopeful, avoiding platitudes and sentimentality. The characters of this small town are earthy and believable -the kind that you might have known in your own community growing up. Perhaps the most compelling part of "Grace" is the care and respect the author shows for each of her characters - some, which on the surface, seem like easy targets for stereotyping, like the Pentecostal minister Reverend Miracle. Instead, Hampton Wright manages to cajole the reader into accepting and acknowledging the value of each person in her kaleidoscope line-up - from Randy, the teenager living with an older man and looking for meaning in her life, to Tony, a suicidal teen who is tempted to give up his life to the darkness he feels closing in, to Dave, a middle-aged, agnostic widower whose life is going nowhere. Hampton Wright's style may remind readers of Clyde Edgerton's "Walking Across Egypt," especially in the wonderful way she portrays elderly women. Characters in the book such as Mamie, an elderly widow mired in routine, and her group of card-playing friends, feel completely authentic to the reader. Like Edgerton, Hampton Wright mixes unexpected humor, small-town situations and bedrock spirituality in a way that is fresh and appealing. A stunning scene at the close of the book leaves readers with a sense of hope that the grace that touched so many in Bender Springs might also be available for them.