Saturday, November 11, 2023


Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich
11/14/23; 400 pages
Harper Muse

Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich is very highly recommended Southern literary fiction that can be heartwarming, heartbreaking, and humorous. Kinfold is an excellent novel; one of the best of the year.

It is the 1970s in Park, Alabama, where Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, or “Nub,” 62, is a known town drunk and best friend of cousin Benny. An incident sends him to the hospital, where he first meets fifteen-year-old and six-foot-five Minnie, whose self-comforting singing wakes him up. He later discovers more about Minnie and decides to sober-up to foster her. At the same time Nub's daughter, Emily, learns some bad news that she is dealing with on her own and the man who is Minnie's father, Sugar Bass, has just been released from prison.

This whole cast of diverse, fully realized main characters come together with a supporting cast to create a complete picture of a specific time, place, and family. At the beginning, as the various characters are introduced, the narrative may seem a bit scattered, but everything will quickly begin to come together. The humor along with insight into the broken characters will grab your attention until the plot takes off, securely holding your rapt attention to the end. 

At its heart Kinfolk is a masterful story of the family you have and the one you create. There is also a good dose of drama, threats, second chances, country music, redemption, forgiveness, love, and humor. The hilarious lines that show up throughout the story are appealing and help set the tone of the novel. Even when something bad is happening, humor can help with the pain. One of the earlier lines about the name for the special kind of person who signs up for a job at Waffle House is laugh-out-loud funny. That remark is followed rather quickly by another perfect quote, "Thanksgiving is about fulfilling family obligations and being miserable the way the good Lord intended."

I really loved Kinfolk. Filled with memorable characters in a captivating plot, it is one of the best books I've read this year.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Harper Muse via NetGalley.

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