The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart
eBook review copy; 352 pages
The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart is a very highly recommended family drama set in 1950s North Carolina.
Twelve-year-old Martha “Sonny” Creech and her two older
brothers, Ross and Trent, work hard alongside their Dad on their
cotton farm. Sonny feels a connection to and loves the land as much as
her father does. She also inherited his ability for divining water. When
a devastating accident claims her father's life, Sonny and her family
are not only grieving, but heading for disaster and poverty if they
can't pay for the seed to plant their cotton crop.
When their weird, but wealthy, neighbor, Frank Fowler stops by and
suggests a deal to help finance their crop, Sonny's mom, Olivia, accepts
the deal even though she and Ross don't trust him. Neither does her
best friend, Daniel, who tells Sonny that the man must have ulterior
motives. Soon it becomes apparent that Fowler is a cruel, mean-tempered
bully who bosses the kids around and calls them names, but acts very
different around their mother. Sonny tries to tell her mom that he is no
good, but she doesn't see his dark side until it is too late.
This is a riveting, compelling, and emotionally complex story that
grips you from the start and doesn't let go. The narrative is
spellbinding, heartbreaking, beautiful, and tragic. It will make you
cry, feeling furious and impotent, as foreshadowing clearly indicates
that a violent disaster is in the making and you are waiting for the
tragedy to happen. I found myself raging silently at Sonny's mom,
Olivia, finding it hard to believe she couldn't see who Frank Fowler
really was through his fake facade.
The writing is absolutely excellent. Everhart decisively captures
time and place, placing her well-developed characters firmly in North
Carolina in 1955 as they deal with what seems like a situation that will
be impossible to escape. The well-paced plot raises the tension and
anxiety of the reader and then keeps you there, anticipating, knowing
something awful is going to happen. The descriptive prose depicts both
the beautiful and sordid in this coming-of-age story of abuse, violence,
prejudice, perseverance, endurance, friendship, and family. The
juxtaposition of the exceptional writing with the disclosure of the
ugliness within the narrative helps make the novel and its themes even
My review copy was courtesy of Kensington.