Synopses & Reviews
Cassie Claiborne's world is riddled with problems beyond her control: her hard-living, pool-shooting father has another wife; her mother can't seem to move herself mentally away from the kitchen window; and her sister Belle is a tempest of fragility and brilliance. Frustrated by her inability to care for so many, Cassie finds in the local pool hall an oasis of green felt where she can master objects and restrain her emotions.
As Cassie grows up, she takes on the thankless role of family provider by working odd jobs and hustling pool. All the while she keeps her eye on the ultimate prize: wringing suitable justice from past wrongs and freeing herself from her life's inertia. In this uplifting story, Haven Kimmel reaches deep into the hamstrung souls of her fictional corner of Indiana to create an astonishing work of pure heartbreak.
"With a tougher core than her previous books, and an ending that's redemptive without being cliched, Kimmel's latest is another winner." Publishers Weekly
"A connection to the characters in her first novel will make readers of Solace smile, and those new to Kimmel will find her thoughtful prose evocative and fresh. A beautiful coming-of-age story." Kristine Huntley, Booklist
"This is one author who will not waste your time. She can sum up a minor character hell, she can sum up ancestry in a single sentence....If this book were a pool game, Kimmel would run the table all night long." Malcolm Jones, Newsweek
"Kimmel's second novel...fulfills all the promise of her earlier books. Kimmel writes with a sharp eye and an empathetic sweetness that together are irresistible....Whether funny, poignant or simply descriptive, her writing illuminates." Tricia Snell, The Oregonian
"Kimmel uses language the way Cassie wields her cue: with precision and skill and what seems to be an innate sense about where to place things." Connie Ogle, Miami Herald
"Kimmel, who clearly knows her way around a pool table, writes some mean sentences, as crisp as a perfectly executed bank shot....Kimmel's novel will drain your emotions." Bob Minzesheimer, USA Today
"A bit too lugubrious for an elegy, a bit too lighthearted for a caper: still, a serviceable account of a young woman finding her own way in a twilit world of regret and loss." Kirkus Reviews
"Subtly shifting and at times sprawling, Rising surprises with broader notions of love, faith, and hope, all written with delicate grace....Kimmel again takes aspects of the everyday and renders them transcendent. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly
"Gorgeously written and brilliantly conceived, Something Rising (Light and Swift)
is touching and funny and warm and spirited." Augusten Burroughs
"Haven Kimmel is nothing if not versatile....Something Rising (Light and Swift) is a stunner of a story that continues Kimmel's tradition of mixing page-turning narrative with heartbreaking honesty." BookPage
"What intelligence is here, and what grace, and what unsentimental (and contagious!) love for our messy ways here on planet Earth. Haven Kimmel is true gospel wearing blue jeans; you read her and you are lifted up." Elizabeth Berg
About the Author
Haven Kimmel is the author of The Solace of Leaving Early
and A Girl Named Zippy
. She studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University, and attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.
Reading Group Guide
Reading Group Guide (FINAL)
Something Rising (Light and Swift)
1. The prologue immediately places us in Cassie's world of playing pool for money. Why do you think Cassie plays? Is it really about the money?
2. In Part I of the novel, Jimmy tells Cassie: "You know you're my favorite, Cassie, although God knows that ain't saying much." Discuss Cassie's relationship with her father, Jimmy. How does it serve as the basis for the way she relates to men in general?
3. When the sisters are younger, Cassie suggests that Edwin's routine presence is because he loves their mother, Laura. But Belle "said he came for other reasons and he was Pure." What do you think Belle means? Why do you suppose Belle and Edwin suddenly married? Could it be that Edwin was courting Belle all along?
4. In Part III of the novel, the narrator comments: "Laura's unhappiness was her religion." How does religion factor into Cassie's life? Has she any faith? Is there anything she considers "holy"?
5. Cassie is known for her belligerence; by the tenth grade she "had been expelled six times for fighting." Nevertheless, when Jimmy files motions to relinquish his paternal responsibility, Cassie refuses Edwin's offer to fight the claim. Cassie asks herself, "What was there to fight?" Why do you think she gives up on Jimmy? How do you explain her indifference? Has she already won the so-called fight?
6. Belle is an interesting character study, especially compared to her sister, Cassie. What drives Belle? Are she and Cassie alike at all? Emotionally abandoned by their parents, in what ways do Belle and Cassie support and comfort each other?
7. The novel's title, Something Rising (Light and Swift), comes from a photocopied book excerpt that Cassie finds in Laura's journal. Explain the significance of the title. How does it relate to the novel and the events within? What is the rattlesnake kite a metaphor for?
8. The theme of death and dying resonates throughout the novel. Discuss some of the ways it appears in the novel. How does Cassie deal with death?
9. Throughout the novel there is no mention of Cassie relating intimately with others. In fact, she seems quite closed off to affection somewhat like her mother, Laura, who "didn't like to touch or be touched." Yet, at the age of thirty, Cassie meets Thomas in New Orleans and falls in love almost instantly. Why do you think Cassie is suddenly open to Thomas and to the prospect of love, in general?
10. Uncle Bud, along with Edwin and Poppy, acts as a surrogate father to Cassie. When she shares her decision to go to New Orleans to see her mother's home and Cassie's would-be father, Uncle Bud warns against it, claiming that it's "The Worst Thing That Can Happen ToYou." Why do you think it's so important for Cassie to meet, play and beat Jackson LaFollette? Despite Uncle Bud's warning, how does the trip impact Cassie's life?
11. The fortune teller, Alan, whom Cassie encounters on the streets of New Orleans, reveals a great deal about her life. At one point he tells her: "You pride yourself on being free ofŠthe chains of femininity." Discuss Cassie's lack of femininity. How does it help her negotiate in the world from which Belle and Laura have passively withdrawn?
12. The novel ends with Cassie heading to New Orleans in a new truck packed with her meager possessions, two guns and $300,000 cash. What do you foresee in Cassie's future?