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Prayers and Lies [Kindle Edition]

Sherri Wood Emmons
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (104 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When seven-year-old Bethany meets her six-year-old cousin Reana Mae, it's the beginning of a kinship of misfits that saves both from a bone-deep loneliness. Every summer, Bethany and her family leave Indianapolis for West Virginia's Coal River Valley. For Bethany's mother, the trips are a reminder of the coalmines and grinding poverty of her childhood, of a place she'd hoped to escape. But her loving relatives, and Bethany's friendship with Reana Mae, keep them coming back.

But as Bethany grows older, she realizes that life in this small, close-knit community is not as simple as she once thought. . .that the riverside cabins that hold so much of her family's history also teem with scandalous whispers. . .and that those closest to her harbor unimaginable secrets. Amid the dense woods and quiet beauty of the valley, these secrets are coming to light at last, with a force devastating enough to shatter lives, faith, and the bond that Bethany once thought would last forever.

Spanning four decades, Sherri Wood Emmons' debut is a haunting, captivating novel about the unexpected, sometimes shocking events that thrust us into adulthood--and the connections that keep us tethered, always, to our pasts.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Emmons makes a strong debut with the story of Bethany Wylie, whose coming-of-age is rocked by revelations that could up-end her family. Bethany cherishes summers spent in West Virginia's Coal River Valley with her cousin Reana Mae, who is closer to her than her real sisters. Her childhood is innocent, despite the alcoholism, violence, and secrets swirling just out of her grasp, but as she grows up, she becomes more attuned to the cracks in her family's idyllic facade. Reana Mae, meanwhile, grows up faster than Bethany could imagine, and the dark secrets of their family's past, once revealed, could rip them apart. Emmons has a rich voice that pairs well with the earthy setting, and she handles Bethany's education with an easy hand. Though the plot could use some shaking up--its reliance on stereotypically unsavory redneck doings is the book's biggest flaw--the characters are wonderfully drawn and reason enough to stick with it. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3735 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 Original edition (January 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046ZRW8S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,648 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
(104)
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
The story is as gripping as the sad-eyed girl on the cover -- it just grabs you and pulls you right along down the banks of the river in West Virginia, where this family saga unfolds across generations. The author pulls no punches with her fascinating cast of characters, some you will like, and some you will revile. This is not a book where you read a chapter, wait a few days, read another chapter, until you are done. Plan to spend some time with Prayers and Lies once you get started because you are not going to want to stop reading it until you are finished. It is a really terrific first novel by Sherri Wood Emmons.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful January 27, 2011
Format:Paperback
Bethany, a seven year old girl from Indianapolis begins to spend her summers with her parents, sisters, and extended family at the Coal River in West Virginia. While the life here is much different from what she is used to, she quickly feels both at peace and at home here, and forms a tight, sisterly bond with her six year old cousin, Reana Mae. There is a simpleness here on the River that Bethy finds comforting. Though they may not have the "riches" that Bethy has at home, they have the "riches" of love, family, and a place to always call home.

As the years go on, things begin to change. People begin to change. And just maybe, things on the Coal River aren't nearly as perfect as Bethy thinks. The sweet innocence of their summers begin to take on a dark, impossible-to-fathom identity that will rock this town and this extended family to its core. It will bring to the surface memories that this family would rather leave buried in the past. It will shatter lives in a way that no one could ever imagine. But a larger question remains - will it bring Bethy and Reana Mae closer than they've ever been, or will it turn them into bitter enemies with no hope of ever finding that deep, close friendship they shared when they were younger?

From page one, you will become entrenched in the lives of Bethy, Reana Mae and the rest of their family. Your heart will ache for their past sufferings, and your mind will scream at them for the situations they now find themselves in. Can this current generation overcome the sins of those that came before them? Or are they destined to repeat those same mistakes? Will lies continue to be told? Will the prayers finally be answered? If you only read one book in 2011, make sure it is Prayers and Lies .
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read- a great first novel! January 27, 2011
By MEW50
Format:Paperback
Sherri Emmons brings to life the trials and tribulations of growing up in West Virginia. Growing up around a multi-generational family brings into focus the many different group dynamics, lies and friendships that can develop. The girl on the cover tells some of the story before you even open the cover. This book is a great rainy day, or snowy day read. The author is able to draw the reader in with well written descriptive passages that keep you wanting to know what happens next.

This may be a book for adults however, due to the coming of age aspect high school students could easily relate and enjoy the book. I have handed off my copy to friends and family and they all have truly enjoyed it. The discussion questions at the end of the book lend itself to book discussion groups and get lively talks once read. I hope that this new author continues to write with the talent, poise and understanding that has been shown in her first novel. She is a joy to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Bethany has always lived for summer, when her family leaves Cincinnati and goes to spend time with relatives in rural West Virginia.

Despite being the youngest of four sisters, Bethany has never felt the kind of bond with any of them as with her cousin Reana Mae, a year younger. From the time they are small, the two girls spend all their time together and share all their secrets.

Yet from that young age, Bethany is keenly aware of a number of things surrounding Reana Mae and her parents, things that she doesn't really understand, just knows aren't right. For one thing, it's the 1960s, and in that tiny rural community, Reana's mother Jolene dresses too provacatively, doesn't "behave like a mother." Jolene's entire existence seems to center upon her relationship with her husband Bobby Lee, equally wild, who is often gone on long trucking trips. Neither seems to have much interest in Reana Mae, their only child. Not only is she physically neglected, often walking about dirty and in ill-fitting clothing, but she is lonely and unloved, clinging to her extended family for any scraps of affection.

For this reason, Bethany's mother has always encouraged her friendship with her little cousin, also extending a listening ear and a helping hand to Jolene, whom she believes suffers behind closed doors far more than she would ever admit. Yet given the fact that the two families only see one another for a brief period each year, it's difficult to do much. So many things can happen and change from summer to summer, as Bethany quickly begins to understand. By the time she is ten and eleven, Bethany sees Reana's life as the troubled mess that it is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
I really enjoyed this story - and to be honest, I don't remember how it was narrated or if the sexual content was explicit or not, but it was dealing with a young girl so I marked... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A slam dunk delightful book .....
I can't say much about the secret - it didn't seem that big a deal - but the book was a slam dunk delightful one. I love this story told with the voice of a young girl. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Biddy Mulligan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I would recommend this to anyone who likes to get engulfed in the lives of the characters they read about. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Maria Tilden
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved every page
Excellently written! This book was a flashback to feeling like a child, innocence and all. It expertly guided me through the lives of this extended family and made me feel part of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mitch
4.0 out of 5 stars The Have and Have-Nots
Bethany and her supportive and loving family, the exception being her bi-polar sister Tracy, live an unassuming and happy life in Indiana. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barbara McLovich
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Compelling, didn't want to put it down.
Published 2 months ago by Suzanne S. Woods
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not one I would read again.
Published 4 months ago by Judy Bellamy
5.0 out of 5 stars WE ARE SHAPED BY OUR PAST
We can't choose our families, our childhood experiences, or stop loving someone who is a part of us. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Joan E. Hartsough
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
I stumbled upon this book and I'm so glad I did, because once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kristin McCune
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed character development
In the beginning there were so many characters I was overwhelmed, but I stuck with it and was glad I did. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. Wismer
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