Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Them That Go

I stopped doing book reviews in 2013, but this book, set in the area of the Southern Appalachians where I grew up, really brought back memories of the traditions and values of my childhood. I just had to spread the good news about this wonderful book.

Book Review

By Becky Mushko

Available from Becky Mushko at HTTP://WWW.BECKYMUSHKO.COM

Reviewed By Linda Goodman

            I stopped doing CD and book reviews at the end of 2013, but reading Becky Mushko’s latest book Them That Go, set in the 1970’s in the same Virginia mountains where I was born and raised, has inspired me to put on my reviewer’s cap one last time.

            This book is a coming of age story about Annie Caldwell, a teenager who truly marches to the beat of a different drummer. Her family is poor, and they live in a run-down home that has no electricity and no indoor plumbing. Even though a year has passed since his death, the family is still in mourning for Annie’s brother, who was killed in Viet Nam.

            Throughout the trials and tribulations of adolescence, Annie’s best friend and confidant is her Aint Lulie, who dispenses advice like good medicine: “There’s always been them that stay and them that go in ever’ generation;” “Don’t waste words on them that will not listen nor understand.”

            Aint Lulie, whose second sight allows her to have visions of the dead, also helps Annie use and understand her own gift of the second sight, which allows her to communicate with animals. This gift will serve her well in a variety of circumstances, including the search for a missing beauty queen and her football player boyfriend.

            I particularly enjoyed becoming re-acquainted with the customs and superstitions that I left behind so many years ago. “If a bird makes a nest of your hair, you’ll go crazy.” (My brother’s head was attacked by a bird once. It took away a big chunk of his hair.) “We rubbed our faces and arms with mashed peppermint leaves and stems to keep away the skeeters.” (It works.)  My favorite: upon leaving someone’s home, the guest says,”I’d ought to go. Y’all ought to come with me.” The host replies, “I cain’t. You ought to spend the night.” I remember my own aunt almost falling out of her chair when one guest took her offer seriously and agreed to stay the night.

            Will Annie be one of them that stay or one of them that go?  You will have to read the book to find out.
            As for me, this book made me homesick. I think it’s time for a visit.