Debut author Amari draws on real-life events in a novel about the difficult life of a girl named Beulah.
Born with a heart condition and cone-shaped head, Beulah’s parents leave her in the care of her maternal grandparents in Moose County, Georgia, shortly after her birth while they go to work on her paternal grandparents’ farm. Her first five years of life with her grandparents, whom she loves dearly, are a happy time until she’s taken away to live with her parents and five younger siblings. Forced to work on a farm and consistently suffering due to her parents’ abuse, Beulah finds solace in playing the piano. As her musical skills develop, she begins to play for numerous churches. Seeking to escape her father, she marries a boy from her high school, Heth, only to find herself plunged back into similar mistreatment at the hands of her new husband. Beulah struggles to find strength from God to continue living life the best she can. The author’s introduction acknowledges that some events in this book are “based on truth,” with names changed, while other parts are completely fictionalized “to stir the emotions, and hold the reader’s attention.” The first chapter provides a thorough accounting of Beulah’s family members, although the sudden rush of introductions and back stories may make it difficult for readers to keep track of who’s who. Additional confusion arises when the narrative lapses into lengthy descriptions of various buildings or provides miscellaneous facts about relatives and friends that hold little relevance to the plot. Despite this, the characters themselves are compelling, and the side stories about Beulah’s great-grandmother Monroe and her first boyfriend, Dennis, are inviting. Still, Amari often cursorily describes events, without the complexity and depth necessary to fully evoke the story. Numerous grammatical and spelling errors (“The Woodall family was humble, quite, poor, and Godly people”) make it even more challenging to follow.
A potentially absorbing tale that’s hampered by a breadth of characters, a shortage of poignant descriptions, and distracting errors.