The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre:General Fiction (Southern)
(Received for an honest review from Kensington via NetGalley)
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Book Depository
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There is an audio excerpt courtesy of Audible on Amazon under the book cover photo
In this masterful new novel, set in 1950s North Carolina, the acclaimed author of The Road to Bittersweet and The Education of Dixie Dupree brings to life an unforgettable young heroine and a moving story of family love tested to its limits.
For twelve-year-old Martha “Sonny” Creech, there is no place more beautiful than her family’s cotton farm. She, her two brothers, and her parents work hard on their land—hoeing, planting, picking—but only Sonny loves the rich, dark earth the way her father does. When a tragic accident claims his life, her stricken family struggles to fend off ruin—until their rich, reclusive neighbor offers to help finance that year’s cotton crop.
Sonny is dismayed when her mama accepts Frank Fowler’s offer; even more so when Sonny’s best friend, Daniel, points out that the man has ulterior motives. Sonny has a talent for divining water—an ability she shared with her father and earns her the hated nickname “water witch” in school. But uncanny as that skill may be, it won’t be enough to offset Mr. Fowler’s disturbing influence in her world. Even her bond with Daniel begins to collapse under the weight of Mr. Fowler’s bigoted taunts. Though she tries to bury her misgivings for the sake of her mama’s happiness, Sonny doesn’t need a willow branch to divine that a reckoning is coming, bringing with it heartache, violence—and perhaps, a fitting and surprising measure of justice.
Donna Everhart is a North Carolina native who knows the ways of the south and southern fiction. The Forgiving Kind is a coming of age story that will have readers feeling every emotion on the spectrum. This book is one of those books that you sit around and think about long after you've finished it. It makes you think, it makes you feel and makes you question your own ideas about forgiveness, bigotry, survival, friendship and many other things. A heart felt novel that readers will likely never forget.
What I liked:
Do you know what a divining rod is? It's generally a stick with two forks that allows a person to find water. But the magic isn't in the wood, it's in the person. Donna Everhart's character, Sonny Creech is a 12 year old girl, living in the south in the 1950s. She loves the land and she has a gift for finding water. But as the reader will quickly find out, she has a lot of other gifts as well. Everhart tells a story of a little girl whose family falls on hard times and must go to extreme links to survive.
This character was a real spitfire. I loved Sonny so much. As I read the book it became about so much more than a coming of age novel. Sonny taught me a lot about not only forgiveness but also friendship, family and the ties that bind that might be invisible but are strong and resilient. She taught me about remembering what matters and about standing up for what you believe even when your twelve and the evil in the world not only knocks at your door but moves right in.
Sonny's family is in crisis. The death of her father and a drought have put them in a position that many don't survive. Sonny's mother has to make some difficult decisions that ultimately change the course of their lives. Sadly, she believes all along that she has no other choice. This woman would literally do anything to provide for her family to do what she thinks is best for them. When a neighbor offers the only solution at hand, she does what she has to.The consequences become dire. I felt for Violet so much. I'm a single mother and there were times I didn't know what to do either. You make sacrifices and you pray and you trust that good things will happen, but sometimes they don't. I think there will be many readers who relate to this situation especially today when the world might appear to have changed a lot, but has it?
I thought a lot about what it means to forgive someone when I was reading this book. I thought about what the Bible says about forgiving a person 70 x 7, which is to say, just keep on forgiving. Are there things that people do that we just can't forgive? Or is there some undefined line in the sand. I also thought about what they say about forgiveness and that it is more for you than it is the person you are forgiving. This book is very thought provoking. This just scratches the surface of all of the things a person could potentially find in this book that will cause them to question. This is an emotional one and rightly so.
Another very important aspect of this book for me was Sonny's relationship with her friend Daniel. I loved Daniel. He was smart and funny and sweet, but he was "different" and that made him a target. Isn't that sad to you? It is to me. Our differences are what make us unique and special. They define us as a person. It's painful for me to envision a world that does not celebrate that, but one that hates and ridicules it. But that's the world they lived in and the one we live in too. It's time to change, do you think? I loved the way Sonny had Daniel's back no matter what. I want to be a friend like that. It's not just in childhood that we have that kind of hard love, we can have it in our own relationships if we want to fight for it.
What I didn't Like:
Well the easy thing to say that I didn't like about this book was the bigotry, the violence, Frank Fowler, the menacing neighbor. But that's all surface stuff. I don't think those are things you can dislike in this instance. I very much liked that the author tackled some really big issues, from racism to homophobia. I liked that she was stark and honest and showed the real gritty southern roots she probably grew up with. I know I did. That stuff happened in my life time and it is still happening. So we might not like that it makes a book a little dark or maybe it makes it a little hard to read. But we have to those are the kind of books that matter.
Some readers read to forget the things that go on in the world. They want fluffy, happy, sappy books. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Books are as much for escape and relaxation as anything else. For some this one will be too much. You know your preferences. You know what you can handle as a reader. Use wisdom when choosing what to read, but also take a chance and read something out of your comfort zone sometimes. I'd suggest this one.
I will say that there are definitely trigger warnings in this book. Some readers are advised to use caution if you've had traumatic experiences related to these kinds of topics. Everhart does an amazing job of describing situations in detail and that can be hard for those who have suffered similar fates.
Wow! This was soooo well written. It oozed southern vibes. It was frank. It was honest. It was hard to read but it was so thought provoking and relevant to today's world. Sonny was an amazing character that readers will not soon forget. It was about family and friendship, right along with racism and bigotry. It was dark, but Sonny was the light. Can't say enough good things about this one folks. Give it a read. Well worth your time.
The Forgiving Kind is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
About the Author:
is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories of family hardship and troubled times in a bygone South. A native of North Carolina, she resides in her home state with her husband and their tiny heart stealing Yorkshire terrier, Mister. Readers can visit her at www.donnaeverhart.com.