By Lauren Myracle
What would you risk to avenge someone you love?
Cat and Patrick were best friends once upon a time. But then something terrible happened to Cat, and she shut everyone in her small town out of her life. Cat learns that it is easier to be alone than to answer questions; besides, small towns are known for their gossip, and she doesn’t want to be a target again. But then Patrick is found bludgeoned, disfigured and left for dead outside of his job at the local gas station, and the whole town knows it is because he is gay. Now, since the local law seems to be indifferent to solving the crime, Cat risks her safety and her own terrible secret to find and reveal Patrick’s attacker. Worse, yet, Cat fears the attacker might be someone she knows.
The tension in this story builds continuously on two fronts from page one. The reader wants to know what happened to Cat in order to make her withdrawal from the world, and at the same time they want to know who attacked Patrick. This conflict, combined with the subtle, yet important commentary about poor economic conditions in the South, growing drug abuse problems amongst residents, racism and prejudice makes for a thought-provoking and powerful read. The characters are well-rounded and interesting; and while at first it is hard to believe in Miss Sweetie’s conviction that all people have good in them, even the most villainous characters in the story reveal this to be true. The dialogue in the story creates a rich texture and humor while at the same time respecting the culture of the region. And while at first I thought that some of the descriptions of attitudes in Black Creek might have marginalized people from the region, I quickly realized that Black Creek is the average American town with all the pretty trimmings removed. Black Creek could very easily be my town, be your town. The novel is raw, edgy, and honest, and I am better for having read it.
Let me add that I listened to this book on audio. The narrator, Elizabeth Evans, nailed the Appalachian accent with ease. I know this because my own parents are from the region! I was especially pleased with the way Evans was able to move from character to character, whether male or female, old or young without ever disturbing my sense of belief. A layered and significant work like this could have been a flop with a lesser reader, but Evans is to be commended. She pulled it off, "bless her heart!"