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Light to the Hills: A Novel Kindle Edition
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A richly rewarding novel about family bonds, the power of words, and the resilience of mothers and daughters in 1930s Appalachia.
The folks in the Kentucky Appalachians are scraping by. Coal mining and hardscrabble know-how are a way of life for these isolated people. But when Amanda Rye, a young widowed mother and traveling packhorse librarian, comes through a mountain community hit hard by the nation’s economic collapse, she brings with her hope, courage, and apple pie. Along the way, Amanda takes a shine to the MacInteer family, especially to the gentle Rai; her quick-study daughter, Sass; and Finn, the eldest son who’s easy to warm to. They remind Amanda of her childhood and her parents with whom she longs to be reconciled.
Her connection with the MacInteers deepens, and Amanda shares with them a dangerous secret from her past. When that secret catches up with Amanda in the present, she, Rai, Sass, and Finn find their lives intersecting—and threatened—in the most unexpected ways. Now they must come together as the truth lights a path toward survival, mountain justice, forgiveness, and hope.
From the Publisher
“A gorgeously written and well-layered novel that immediately transports us to the Appalachian Mountains of the 1930s. The ways, superstitions, folklore, and justice of the mountain people are woven deeply into the story. Rich in color, tradition, and character, this mountain saga will hold you spellbound.” ―Historical Novels Review
“A bright and vibrant debut. Light to the Hills is a touching meditation on motherhood and the importance of community, especially during difficult times. Bonnie Blaylock will be one to watch in the realm of historical fiction.” ―Olivia Hawker, bestselling author of One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow
“The packhorse librarians of the 1930s opened up entirely new worlds to people through the power of literature, a power no better showcased than within these pages: the vibrant Appalachians, courageous women, and a moving tale of compassion, justice, and forgiveness. Lush and rich with detail in a setting like no other, Bonnie Blaylock’s Light to the Hills will transport readers, capturing not only the resilience of those living among the Appalachians but of the lasting and binding magic of stories.” ―Gabriella Saab, author of The Last Checkmate
“Bonnie Blaylock is a gifted author, and her Light to the Hills is an impressive debut. Set in the eastern Kentucky mountains during the Great Depression, Blaylock takes the reader into the lives of an Appalachian rural coal-mining family hit hard by hard times. Blaylock skillfully weaves a grand story of moonshiners, coal miners, tough people, regional language, a beautiful setting, danger, romance, and more than a little humor. The compelling characters in Light to the Hills will live with you long after you finish the last page. This is a beautiful novel, and I recommend it heartily!” ―John Carenen, award-winning author of the Thomas O’Shea series and Keeping to Himself
“Bonnie Blaylock’s Light to the Hills paints a loving, vivid portrait of the families, communities, and landscape of 1930s Appalachia. Its characters endeared themselves to me in their pluck and spirit, their attunement to the natural world, and their fierce love for one another. I wanted to stay immersed in their world.” ―Susannah Felts, author of This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record and cofounder of Porch Writers’ Collective --This text refers to the paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Light to the Hills follows three strong female leads, including Amanda Rye, a single mother looking to provide for her young son as a packhorse librarian delivering books with her trusty mule, Junebug. On her route, she meets the stalwart Rai MacInteer, her spunky twelve-year-old daughter Sass, and her charming son Finn. An immediate friendship is born and Amanda begins to feel like she has an extended family for the first time in years. However, when a threat from Amanda’s past resurfaces, endangering the MacInteer family as well, the three women become allies in a mission to protect their loved ones.
At its heart, Light to the Hills is a love story to Appalachia, to literacy and the gift of words, and to a group of people who have little in the way of material possessions yet so much to give the world and each other. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars or Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, this heartwarming novel transports readers to the misty mountains of Kentucky and introduces a cast of unforgettable characters who exemplify resilience and hope.
—Alicia Clancy, Editor
- ASIN : B09QPL7XT5
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (Dec 1 2022)
- Language : English
- File size : 5789 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 271 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #43,625 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #141 in Stories of Friendship
- #1,186 in Coming of Age Fiction (Books)
- #1,249 in Domestic Life in Women's Fiction
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from other countries
Undoubtedly, this is a very well-written story and it is evident that Blaylock has researched this period. I loved the depiction of the Appalachian mountains and how families struggled in the remote wilderness. With the travelling packhouse librarians, communities were brought together through the power of the written word, and this is seen with the MacInteer family. When Amanda first visits, the children cannot read and decipher Amanda's story through the illustrations. I enjoyed watching this transformation over time and how the children grow to love reading and appreciate the opportunities that come with such a skill.
However, this book is not just about the reading scheme across America, but also Amanda's past. Over the course of the novel, readers discover the circumstances that led to Amanda being a single mother. Her story is saddening but not uncommon and I could not have predicted some of the revelations in her story. Although Amanda feels like her past is truly in the past, this does not seem to be the case and it was interesting to see how her life begins to interweave with the MacInteers, leading to a dramatic conclusion.
I enjoyed the historical element to this story and thought the descriptions to be very vivid. At the same time, I thought it made the story unnecessarily dense and quite slow in places. It felt like the writer took a bit too long to establish parts of the plot, causing my attention to wander. Whilst I enjoyed the overall plot development, I thought it could have been put together in a more interesting and absorbing manner.
The characters were all interesting to observe and I enjoyed how the writer switched between different perspectives, especially with the juxtaposition provided by Sass's narrative. It was satisfying to read from the view point of one of the nastier characters and I think this added extra depth to the plot. As identities become clearer in the story, I felt that these perspectives allowed me to understand character motives a bit more.
I liked this story but did not fall in love with it as I had hoped. Well-written and historically fascinating, I wish the plot development had been more immersive. It probably would have also helped if I had not opened it with the desire of reading a book similar to a much-loved story...
The main theme of the book is the historical context but the addition of an element of suspense is nothing short of a masterstroke. Although the ending was fairly predictable in general terms, the details provided a very enjoyable twist to the story.
The only possible criticism of the story is that. like some fairy tales, it's a little bit 'preachy' about some things. And it also takes quite a few liberties with the number of coincidences and chance events which keep the story moving towards its happy ending. A different writer would have allowed a much darker outcome which would have opened the door to at least one sequel.
The book stands alone and is easily worthy of 5 stars for its originality, its warmth and,above all, for its totally immersive picture of a time and a place.
A beautifully written piece bringing the hardships of The Depression and life before modern technology clearly into focus.
Wonderfully strong female characters and a glimpse into a part of the world that I'll, sadly, never visit.
This novel depicts a hard way of life that made the simple pleasures all the more precious