70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
This is a southern saga of a small North Carolina town where a minister has brought healing to a church. The church's windows have been covered in newspaper, which immediately foreshadows dark secrets within. With the healing minister comes evil and A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is the account of how that evil effects one family in particular.
The narrative is told in four voices: A ten year old boy (Jess), his father, the sheriff and an old wise woman who was the first to recognize the evil. The centerpiece of the novel is a twelve year old mute boy, Jess's older brother, nick-named "Stump". Despite the efforts of Jess and the old lady to protect Stump and the love of his father and mother, things go awry for the boy and all the characters have to deal with it.
All of the characters are compelling. The boys' grandfather joins the cast about half-way into the story and brings the sheriff and the plot full circle. Must the past repeat itself? Is there redemption? The novel could be a book club gold mine.
This is a very well-written compelling book filled with raw emotions that only familial love and fanatic religion can bring. The characters, especially the narrators are very memorable. Just a warning: there are not a lot of smiles.
Highly recommended. This may be the kind of book that sticks so well that upon reflection, I'd give it five stars.
162 of 175 people found the following review helpful
I finished this wonderful novel last night & it is still on my mind. I can't stop thinking about it. It will be on my mind for a long time. This is a very powerful novel and one filled with love, forgiveness, sadness, tragedy,(more than just one) & pure unadulterated evil. Evil in the form of a charismatic pastor. A man who cared for nothing but his own pleasures & used the ignorance of his flock to get what he wanted. The novel is told in 3 voices; sweet innocent Jess, who wanted to protect his mute brother, Stump; Adelaide, the town midwife who knew the evil that controlled the church & tried to protect the children from it, & Clem, the town sheriff that had his own sad burdens to bear but who I felt was a hero. The one voice I wanted to hear was that of Julie, Jess & Stumps mother. Being a mother of 3, I wanted to try to understand her & how she could allow things to happen the way that they did. I can't imagine the control that the evil pastor, Chambliss, had over her and his entire congregation, except Adelaide of course. She knew his evilness & experienced it first hand. This was not an easy story to read. Chambliss made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. Jess's little friend, Joe Bill, had to constantly worry about being tortured by his truly sadistic brother Scooter and Scooter's idiot friend Clay. I wanted to protect Jess & Stump & their friend Joe Bill & I wanted the evil pastor to get his just reward, but things don't always turn out like we want them to. I find it hard to believe that is a debut novel. It is most definitely a 5 star novel & I am so glad that I chose it to read from the Amazon Vine Program.
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Often, Evil is found in the places you least expect it. Perhaps it is even harder to forgive and move forward when the evil that is done to you comes from such an unexpected source. I can say that I finished this book several days ago, but have been haunted by it ever since. I just can't seem to get it out of my mind. And I consider that to be a real compliment to the author. Love, evil, forgiveness, tragedy and great sadness, all in one. This heartbreaking and memorable story is told through three different people involved in different ways. First and foremost, Jess, so sweet and innocent, wanting only to protect his dear brother, Stump, who is mute. Another important voice is that of Clem, the town Sheriff with sad and unspeakable burdens of his own to bear, and Adelaide, the Midwife in the town. She knew some of what was going on, and tried her best to protect the town's children from the evil that hid behind righteous disguise. The pastor, Chambliss, is one of the most despicable characters I have ever read about.
The author, Wiley Cash, has written a debut novel unlike anything I have ever read, and I hope that this unbelievably powerful novel gets the attention from the reading public that it deserves. I for one will be talking about it to everyone I know.
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
I enjoyed this book for the writer's style if nothing else. Cash has a real ability to create rich imagery. The story has some great lines and elements, but gets pretty heavy handed. Example: two characters, each responsible for the death of the other's son. I felt like it ended abruptly, with a quick, philosophical sewing-up at the end. Some of the characters were really interesting people, worthy of a story all their own. I hope we see more of this author. I might be particularly partial as I discovered that he is a local, but I enjoyed his writing.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2012
This is an amazing book. If it is a debut book from this author then hats off to him. The writing style, the story, the premise, the ending, the charachter development, all was phenomenal.
I also liked that at least four different characters narrate the story in 1st person, in different sections fo the book. That is a 1st for me and I loved it.
Highly recommended for fiction lovers. Wiley Cash is here to stay and this book is destined to receive some awards.
A film or T.V. series wouldn't be a bad idea either.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
What do you get when you mix together the year 1986, boys being boys, an evil Pentecostal pastor, the hills and dark hollers of North Carolina, a righteous sheriff and a scared midwife? You get the debut novel "A Land More Kind Than Home" by Wiley Cash.
The story is told in three voices - Adelaide Lyle, the elderly midwife, protector of the children she's delivered over the years; Jess Hall, nine year old boy who loves his parents and his older brother, Stump, who is non-verbal and autistic, and who are all major characters in this tale; and then there is Clem Barefield, sheriff and a man of integrity, with painful memories of his past.
The River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following plays a major role in the story also. Foursquare gospel Pentecostal with all the trappings - faith healings, speaking in tongues, snake handling, other spiritual gifts - led by sociopathic Pastor Carson Chambliss.
And the story starts, builds, and culminates in tragedy because Jess and Stump, two curious young boys, see something they shouldn't and start a landslide of tragic events.
Cash has quite a knack with drawing utterly believable characters who use stunningly spare but effective dialogue, drawing the reader (sometimes unwillingly) deeply into this tragic story.
I was surprised by this book. I did not expect the high quality of writing in this first effort by Cash or my gut response to the story. It brought to mind The Last Child by John Hart; A Painted House by John Grisham; and The Bottoms and Edge of Dark Water both by Joe Lansdale (high praise indeed from me since Lansdale is one of my favorite authors).
Can you tell I liked this book - a lot?
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
I really wanted to love this book, but I can only give it 2.5 stars. The story is good, and it contains more that enough twists and turns to keep my attention. But the writing itself detracted (and distracted) from the story.
First, much of the book is overwritten. In once scene, Joe Bill's grandpa makes him a peanut butter sandwich. Joe Bill states:
He watched me pull out my chair and sit down. I picked up a piece of bread and took a bite. He'd put that peanut butter on there thick, and the bread stuck to the roof of my mouth and I had a hard time swallowing it. I stood up from the table and got me a glass from the cabinet and went to the refrigerator for the milk. I sat my glass on the counter and poured the milk until my glass was full, and then I put the milk back into the refrigerator and carried my glass to the table.
This seems like a superfluous amount of words to communicate "I got up and got a glass of milk." Sometimes, less is more.
Secondly, much of the story is told in flashbacks and dreams that disrupt any sense of continuity within the novel. By way of example, two boys are playing basketball on a dirt court when Joe Bill asks Jess, "What is your grandpa's house like?" Jess answers, "It's okay, I guess." Then, mid-game, Jess gives the reader a six-page description of the only time Jess has been to his grandpa's house before passing the ball back to Joe Bill. Because only the tenses have changed, the narrative is disjointed and jumpy.
Finally, the dialogue is over-written or over-edited or over-something. I don't know. Each chapter is told by a different character in that character's own voice, which works most of the time. But then there are some really strange sentences: "I watched them roll over her knuckles where her fingers kneaded the chair against which her body leaned." and "The clear glass above the sink through which the sunlight poured." Who talks like that? I've never been to rural North Carolina, but I'm pretty sure these are sentences crafted by someone who has spent too much time studying grammar . . . and that is totally inconsistent with the characters in this story.
All told, I would still recommend the story for someone who wants a quick read, but I'm too disappointed with the writing to give it more than 2 stars.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2012
Wiley Cash is new author who is from my native state of North Carolina. He is going to be a very successful author because of his talent. This first book has already made the New York Times best selling list; it debuted at 33. I predict it will make the top ten.
When it was available on Wiley's website, I immediately read the first chapter and an excerpt from the 5th chapter. I was hooked. I couldn't wait to read the entire book. I preordered from Amazon, thinking that they would ship it in time for me to have it on April 17. However, they did not ship until the release date, so I downloaded the Kindle version and began reading.
I was not disappointed. Wiley is a talented author! His characters are so well defined that we quickly care about them and feel like we are watching what they are doing. Set in the hills of North Carolina, you understand the feel of places immediately.
The plot is well planned with enough twists and turns to keep you interested in what is happening to the characters. The characters include two brothers, one a mute; an elderly spinster who knows just about everything about everybody in the small town; the sheriff of the town; and an evil, snake handling, pastor who manipulates his flock very well.
The dialogue in this book is mesmerizing! It is so well written, you can actually visualize the action of the characters. I am not a writer; but I am an avid reader. I read mostly Southern authors. Wiley Cash reminds me somewhat of Clyde Edgerton; but so much more of John Hart. Wiley grew up in Gastonia, NC and does what great writers do best; write about what they know.
I highly recommend A Land Kinder Than Home... which was taken from the last paragraph of Thomas Wolfe's You Can't Go Home Again. I'm looking forward to Wiley Cash's second, which is already in the works.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2013
A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash is a novel taking place in a small town in North Carolina. I saw a lot of great reviews and articles about this book and thought that I might enjoy the story as well.
Jess Hall is a young man who has a lust for life and adventure, he is also protective of his older brother, Christopher, who is a mute and has developmental problems. One day Christopher, also known as Stump, sees something he's not supposed to and the consequences are enormous.
Jess, Adelaide Lyle, the town's midwife, and Clem Barefield, the sheriff, all narrate the story with their own unique perspective and painful history.
I had a tough time getting into A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash. The first 80 pages or so seemed to drag and only when the sheriff was introduced did the story pick up. even though the book is cataloged under the "mystery" genre, the story is pretty much straightforward and there is no mystery per-se.
From a technical aspect, this is a superb book. Mr. Wiley is extremely talented and even though I might not have enjoyed the whole of the story, I certainly enjoyed embracing the literary aspects of the narrative. The real star of the book is the atmosphere, which gives this timeless story a rich and expansive feeling.
The set of characters is fantastic; each one of them probably deserves a book of their own. I don't say this often (actually, this is the first time I ever said this) but it would have benefited the book to have plus or minus 50 pages more of character development. The story is slow and steady, the drama builds up slowly but ends very quickly without giving any character it's just due.
However, many things happen in the book, a lot of innuendos and dark undertones which could give book clubs hours of fun discussing what was, could have been or would have been in the story (see the Reading Group Guide). It's too bad that the author chose to tell the story from the perspective of three characters that all share the same perspective; it would have been interesting if another character who doesn't share their point of view has his or her say.
A Land More Kind than Home is a smooth, elegant and enjoyable novel. The characters are vivid and interesting. Mr. Cash has fantastic talent which is sure to make him a rising star in the literary world and I am waiting to read more from his pen.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I had a difficult time reading this book. I liked the main characters but could not connect with them or the story in general. The center character is a mute boy that his brother, father and elderly woman try to protect, but can not.
I truly do not like writing negative reviews because I know the authors pour their life into a book but based on the reviews I was disappointed in this book. I even set the book aside and tried reading it again and let a friend read the book for a different point of view and she could not get passed the first 100 pages.