A tightly woven mystery about rural and spiritual life that proves both heartwarming and gripping.

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MOUNTAIN OF HEALING

A debut religious novel set in Appalachia mixes faith, family, and medical science. 

In this tale, Justice presents an ambitious narrative. The story follows Angela, a live-in nurse from an unspecified big city who moves to a small Appalachian mountain town to care for two elderly women, Grace and Harriet Miles—Aunt Grace and Aunt Hattie, as they insist on being called. In taking care of Grace and Hattie, Angela slowly reconnects with nature, spirituality, and the simpler things in life. But she also stumbles on some darker aspects of the mountain’s history and existence. Just what happened to Maggie, Grace and Hattie’s sister? What will happen to Amelia Grace, a quiet victim of domestic abuse who helps around Grace’s farmhouse? What is Grady, Maggie’s husband, up to? This last question proves the most important to Justice’s book, driving the plot and central intrigue of the story. Grady, the main antagonist, is using a parcel of land on the mountain for a shady government project. As his work gets underway, he waits out Grace and Hattie, knowing he will inherit their farm and a considerable lot on the mountain. Angela (with some help from a new friend, Helen, a fellow nurse from town) decides to get to the bottom of it all while taking care of friends and family along the way. Justice accomplishes an impressive feat in weaving all these storylines together, though a few of them start fading away by the volume’s conclusion. Angela’s spiritual development, for example, more or less concludes halfway through the work. The novel would be improved by extending this thread so it runs in tandem with the suspense-driven story about Grady’s activity on the mountain. Justice’s prose is lively, especially when writing in dialect. The strongest dialogue comes out of Grace’s mouth: “They is lotsa’ other books that say lotsa nice things. But the Good Book is the only one that kills” its hero. While not necessarily true, it’s certainly authentic. This tale should please readers with an interest in both thrillers and religion.

A tightly woven mystery about rural and spiritual life that proves both heartwarming and gripping.

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5127-7143-5

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2017

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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