I have this problem with fiction: at a certain point in the book I begin to think that the characters exist in real life. Maybe I believe this most when I fall in love with the characters; the families, the friendships, the loss and redemption.
Here is a book all about a character whom I adore, and sincerely wished were real. (I secretly think he is.)
In "Clay's Quilt" by Silas House, we meet Clay Sizemore, a young man, a miner in the Appalachians: he drinks too much and gets wild, he loves nature, he is totally committed to his family, everything he does is done with great passion. His family story is also intense - his mother Anneth was the town's wildest child, killed when Clay is just four years old. There are actual quilts being stitched in this book, but they play a minor role. The real quilt of the title is the life that Clay creates by piecing together all the different elements of his history, family and hopes.
One thread of this book follows Clay's efforts to learn who his mother was. It is an essential part of his journey to discovering who he is, at his core; his mother gains some dimensionality when we hear from those who knew and loved Anneth when she was alive.
This book describes a part of the world I know nothing about, the hills of Kentucky, but I just drank it in: the close knit families, the place of religion and of nature in daily life, the alcohol, drugs and violence, the amazing music. I love to just open the pages at random and sink back into this place that Silas House created. His words don't leap off the page, they just gently seep into your bones, in a different rhythm to the words you're used to. This world House paints is so rich, I want to start saying "Hidy" to my friends in the morning, and to go clogging on Friday night in a smokey honky-tonk...
On a scale of 1 - 5 yards*, I give this book a 5 YARD RATING.
Pain, loss, redemption, religion, joy, love and crazy dancing - this book's got it all. Beautiful.
If you try it, leave a comment and tell me what you thought!
*Of course yards. I'm a quilter. How else would I measure anything?