Every year the library I work for participates in the AIR program and I always dread having to read the book they select. It’s not that they are bad books, but just something I would never select or be interested in. In fact I have noticed that quite often they are books that not many of our patrons enjoy. I think the committee needs a little fresh blood in it to mix things up a bit. This year, however, I think they did a fine job of picking something that is going to appeal to most people. The book moved at a nice pace, has plenty of action, some mystery and a setting that most people in Iowa are going to identify with (even if it doesn’t take place in Iowa).
To me this book is about loss and death; how people come to terms with tragic situations, find closure and move on. It is also about small towns and the grudges, prejudices and traditions they so love to hold onto. How they can protect the monsters that live within their communities to the detriment of those that live there and how small town cliques can be worse than any high school in America. Small town have long memories and in the end, if they don’t want to die out, they need to learn to let things go and not hold the past against future generations.
This story was told from two perspectives, Grizz and Clara’s, both outcasts in the community in which they live. Grizz because of who his family is and Clara because she is a newcomer. They are both linked by a tragedy, an awful murder and suicide committed by Grizz’s son Seth. We spend the book learning the events leading up the the event and what caused him to do something so horrible. We also learn more of these two character’s past and what all connects them. I really enjoyed getting to know Grizz and Clara, but wish it could have been under better circumstances. They are both strong good people and it was nice to see them triumph over the events in the book to find some sort of peace in the end.
The people of the town upset me, even though I think they are pretty accurate representations of people who have lived in a small mid-west community for generations. It upsets me that there are still people like this in the world and that they get away with bullying people, that they feel free to intimidate and harass people who they deem less then in the community. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing that small town life is dying out. Maybe there will be fewer monsters in the world.
The ending was fitting and action packed. Even though this is a dark book in places there is peace and justice to be had in the end. It is a good book and I’m glad I read it.