Ruth and Nat live together in a religious zealot's group home and cleave to each other like siblings. They perform for the other kids by pretending to talk to the dead, and when the mysterious Mr. Bell comes along, as if conjured from the air, they take their show on the road to get away from their guardian and make enough cash to live independently.
Simultaneously, we follow the story of Ruth as an adult. She shows up one day, mute, but with purpose, and leads her niece, Cora, on a trek through upstate New York toward some nebulous end. Cora, pregnant and confused, running from her own demons, takes the leap of faith to trust her aunt and turn herself over to something bigger.
I am notoriously grumpy when it comes to dual storylines, but these were so artfully woven together, and linked by such sympathetic characters, I was absolutely on the edge of my seat anticipating what would become of Ruth, Nat, Mr. Bell, and Cora. As the shards of the story began to meet over the dual timelines, it was absolutely addictive.
There were so many elements of this book that were right up my alley. The premise just screams, 'PICK ME UP!" I love a supernatural twist, but Catherine from The Gilmore Guide to Books hit on something I found unexpectedly appealing when she asked me on Twitter...
The promise of something supernatural hovers over this book from the beginning, but Hunt was deft at making me guess, second-guess, and flat out beg for the answer to that question. Is there any truth to Ruth and Nat's abilities? Is Mr. Bell an angel or a demon? Are any of those delineations so clear cut? I'm sure not gonna tell you, but I have to say, I found the book to have a satisfying outcome.@estellasrevenge Magical realism? Or full on reality? I think I was expecting Mount Char and so gave up too soon.— Catherine Gilmore (@GilmoreGuide) December 28, 2015
Since I've mentioned this book on social media a few times, bloggers have come out of the woodwork to heap praise on Samantha Hunt's earlier work, and I can promise you I will lay hands on every single one of them sometime in the future between #ReadMyOwnDamn books. Maybe those other books will be good treats...a carrot to dangle for myself.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 5, 2015)
Source: I received this book from the publisher in consideration of a review.