Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Approximate word count: 70-75,000
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The daughter of an English teacher and a minister, Melinda Clayton became a psychotherapist and an author. She has worked as an advocate for abused women, children, and those with developmental disabilities. However, she says her biggest accomplishment is her children who are “amazing, cool, fun little people.” For more, visit her blog.
Life in West Virginia’s coal mining country in the 1940s wasn’t easy for anyone. For Billy May Platte, a half Irish, half Cherokee orphan, life takes an ugly turn when three boys, just home from the war, call her sexuality into question.
Appalachian Justice is a story about being different, experiencing intolerance and abuse, while still remaining true to oneself. And ultimately, it is also a story of love, courage, and redemption. Books with a story this powerful are a rarity.
A large portion of the book is narrated by Billy May, the main character, and it is done the way she would talk. She isn’t highly educated and is far from “well spoken.” I found this disconcerting in the beginning. Part way through the first chapter when I read the initial statement from Billy May, “from the top of my mountain, I seen that girl runnin’,” it threw me. However, before long I became accustomed to Billy May’s voice and no longer noticed.
The book is structured to jump between three different points in Billy May’s life, the current, as she lays in a hospice bed narrating her life story, her young life with the story leading up to a life changing event, and middle age, when another incident once again changes the course of her life. Several social ills are highlighted and explored through Billy May’s eyes.
It isn’t often I hit the climax of a book and find myself holding back tears. Yet, during an emotional scene between two of the main characters near the end of Appalachian Justice, I found myself doing exactly that. I managed to fight them off for fear of losing my man card, but had they come they would have been both tears of joy and of happiness. If you read this book – something I highly recommend – maybe you can spot the scene.
No significant issues.
Rating: ***** Five stars