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Bloodrootby Amy Greene
Bloodroot Mountain is not a setting in Amy Greene's debut novel, it's a larger-than-life character: It has presence and life and story. Set in the Tennessee mountains during the Depression, Bloodroot tells the story of four generations of Lamb family women, who are rumored to be witches. Themes of love, truth, and beauty are pivotal, and they are explored with grace and hope, but there is also rage, wickedness, and hate. I raced through Bloodroot read it in one sitting because I absolutely could not put it down.
Synopses & Reviews
A stunning fiction debut about the legacies — of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and heartbreak — that one family wrestles with across generations, from the Great Depression to today.
Told in a kaleidoscope of voices, Bloodroot is at once a moving exploration of familial love and the story of an incendiary romance that consumes everyone in its path: Myra Lamb, a wild young girl with mysterious haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain; her grandmother, Byrdie Lamb, who protects Myra fiercely and passes down the touch that bewitches people and animals alike; the neighbor boy who longs for Myra but is destined never to have her; Myra's children, who must reckon with all that they have inherited from their mother; and John Odom, the young man who tries to tame Myra and meets with disaster.
With grace and unflinching verisimilitude, Amy Greene brings these characters — the people of her native Appalachia — vividly to life in an evocative, astonishing tour de force.
"Despite a few vivid moments, this uneven debut, a four-generation Appalachian family epic, loses sight of the intriguing mythology it lays out early on. Though Byrdie Lamb inherited the mystical powers of the 'granny women' of her grandmother's mountain village, she's failed to protect her family: daughter Clio runs away from Bloodroot Mountain at 17 to get married and is later killed, along with her husband, in a car accident, leaving their daughter, Myra, in Byrdie's care. And though Byrdie tries to raise Myra right, Myra falls under the spell of an abusive alcoholic. Her children, twins Laura and Johnny, grow up largely in fear, and eventually social workers remove them from their home. As adults, they return for different reasons: she for comfort, he for revenge. Narrated by several members of the Lamb-Odom clan, the narrative initially swirls around the mystery of Byrdie's powers, but as the story plays out, her gift (or, perhaps, curse) is unfortunately backgrounded by the violence of those who marry into the family and sow ruin. Greene has a sharp eye for combustible moments and a fine ear for dialect, but the follow-through doesn't do justice to the setup." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This stunning debut novel is a triumph of voice and setting....With a style as elegant as southern novelist Lee Smiths and a story as affecting as The Color Purple, this debut offers stirring testimony to the resilience of the human spirit." Booklist (starred review)
"Pitch-perfect voices tell a story loaded with lyric suffering and redemption — bound to be a huge hit." Kirkus Reviews
"Bloodroot is the best Appalachian novel to come out of the region in a long, long while, ushering in a fresh new voice that speaks for a whole generation." Silas House, author of Clay's Quilt and A Parchment of Leaves
"Bloodroot is a marvel of a first novel, its world deftly conjured, with a mood and magic all its own. I don't know what captivated me more, the vividness of its voices or its evocation of a corner of the American landscape both foreign and familiar — but I was riveted from start to finish." Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
"Amy Greene's Bloodroot can stand proudly beside Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, two works which likewise examine the isometric push of the human spirit against the immovable forces of tyranny and poverty. Greene's novel has everything I savor in fiction: flawed but sympathetic characters, a narrative as unpredictable as it is engaging, and a setting rendered with such a vivid palette of local color detail that you'd swear you were there." Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed
Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legacies — of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss — that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today. Here is a spellbinding tour de force that announces a dazzlingly fresh, natural-born storyteller in our midst.
About the Author
Amy Greene was born and raised in the foothills of East Tennessee's Smoky Mountains, where she lives with her husband and two children.
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