Author: Vicki Lane
Publisher: Dell, 2010
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Source: The author, in exchange for an honest review.
First Line: On the evening of the third day of labor, the woman's screams filled the little cabin, escaping through the open door to tangle themselves in the dark hemlocks that mourned and drooped above the house.
When life hands them lemons, some people are incapable of making lemonade. Death, war, poverty, sickness, children marrying and moving away... everything seems to be conspiring against Miz Fronie up in Dark Holler. She has become a bitter and twisted human being. When her last child, a little girl, is born, she calls the baby Least and leads everyone in the area to believe that the child isn't right in the head. If no one else wants her, Least will have to stay in Dark Holler with her mother.
Least's first glimpse of salvation is when Grandma Beck comes to live with them. Grandma Beck is crippled with arthritis, but she can help Least make rugs, and she can teach Least all she knows about the stories, the healing and the magic of their ancestors, the Cherokee. Least can see things that no one else can, and Grandma Beck brings her the balm of understanding what's happening to her.
A few years later, Least finds herself making a choice between her heritage and a young man who is a devout Christian. She makes him promises and never looks back-- until she is an old woman and an evil man has put an innocent young boy in mortal danger.
When Vicki Lane asked if I'd like to read a galley of her latest book, at first I was embarrassed. I'd read her first Elizabeth Goodweather mystery, Signs in the Blood, and really enjoyed it; however, like so many other mystery series I've started, I have yet to further my acquaintance with Ms. Goodweather. When Vicki told me that the book was about my favorite character, Miss Birdie, and not another book in the Goodweather series, I jumped at the chance to read The Day of Small Things.
I am so glad I did. Like another talented author who writes about Appalachia with love and lyricism, Lane brings the area and the people to life. I don't think there was a single character who did not engage my emotions in some way. To watch Least grow into Miss Birdie over the span of time was a privilege, and to see two old ladies forget their years and step out to battle for what's right was, quite simply, a joy.
If, like me, you are a fan of Sharyn McCrumb's Ballad novels and you'd like to read more quality fiction set in Appalachia that features wonderful characters-- by all means, read Vicki Lane. You won't regret it!