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Non 1001 Book Review: The Evening Road by Laird Hunt

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While I’m away on vacation, Book Worm has been busy reading and reviewing books for all of us. We’ll be posting several of those reviews in the next few weeks. This week, Book Worm reviews The Evening Road by Laird Hunt. Keep reading to see what she thought.The Evening Road by Laird Hunt
Published in: 2017
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: The Evening Road

This ARC was provided by Random House UK (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Two women, two secrets: one desperate and extraordinary day.

Meet Ottie Lee Henshaw, a startling, challenging beauty in small-town Indiana. Quick of mind, she navigates a stifling marriage, a lecherous boss, and on one day in the summer of 1930, an odyssey across the countryside to witness a dark and fearful event.

Meet Calla Destry, a young black woman desperate to escape the violence of her town, and to find the lover who has promised her a new life.

Every road leads to the bedlam of Marvel, a town where lives will collide and be changed forever. Reminiscent of the works of Louise Erdrich, Edward P. Jones and Marilynne Robinson, The Evening Road is the story of two remarkable women on the move through an America riven by fear and hatred, and eager to flee the secrets they have left behind.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: Given the state of the world today, a lot of my recent reading has tended towards race relations, and this book is no exception. Here is a little history about the day the book deals with: It is the 7th August 1930 in Indiana, the day when 2 black men, Thomas Shipp and Abraham Smith, are attacked by a lynch mob. Their prison cell is broken into and the men are then beaten, hanged, and burned. A photo of this event inspired Abel Meeropol to write the poem “Bitter Fruit” which was then set to music and became the song “Strange Fruit”.

While the blurb leads the reader to believe that this will be a book about the lynching in Marvel, it is not that at all. Instead it is a look at where specific people are on that day and what they are hoping to achieve. The story is told from the point of view of 3 very different women: Ottie Lee Henshaw, who comes across as “white trash”, Calla Destry, an independent young black woman with a rebellious streak, and Sally Gunner, a white woman with a recent head injury who communicates with angels and wants nothing to do with the events in Marvel.

I can’t really say much about what happens within the book without giving away spoilers. What I can say is I enjoyed the in-depth character study that this book provided, even if I didn’t like a lot of the characters, I also liked the way things crossed over into both central stories and the fact that the reader had to keep an eye out for the cross references to see how things turned out.

Who would like this? If you are expecting to read a book that deals specifically with the horror of a lynching as a main theme, you may be disappointed. However, if you enjoy character studies and are interested in how people’s lives are impacted by racism and violence, this makes an interesting read.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Evening Road

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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