Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Headed for Home

Headed for Home. Mary Helen Brown. 2016. 178 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Tommy Austin getting killed by the angel was the first strange thing to happen that summer, but it certainly wasn't the last.

Premise/plot: Enjoy Southern fiction? Enjoy coming of age stories? Enjoy mysteries with a touch of the supernatural? Enjoy family dramas? Headed for Home might be the best book that you've not heard of...at least not yet. Speedy is the narrator of this small-town charmer. Speedy's sister, affectionately nicknamed SISTER, is home for the summer and she's brought some college friends with her. They aren't taking the summer off, however, but are instead working collectively on a research project.

They are doing research on their hometown (Rowja, Texas), on their families, on local folklore, etc. All but one of the girls have definite connections to the town's past--for several generations. But one doesn't. She thinks there is a slight chance than a great-uncle might have visited the town based on a photograph or maybe a postcard. The background is Rowja's courthouse, I believe. But she doesn't really know anything at all about this distant relation. Just that he disappeared around the time of World War I and never communicated with the family again.

Speedy will be staying with Sister and her classmates at the Big House. On their first night of "research," they have a seance of sorts and hear from a spirit identifying himself as Tom. He was murdered. He's buried. The girls--young women--think it would be compelling--good for their grade--if they used this angle to make their research more interesting. At first, no one actually believes that Tom is a disgruntled spirit--ghost--trying to communicate with them. But by the end, most everyone does believe.

My thoughts: On the one hand, I loved it. Mary Helen Brown's short novel is super-entertaining and the characters are so developed and fascinating. The little details have a just right feel to them. The way she writes--the way her characters talk--feels authentically Texan. I was drawn into the story from the very beginning. On the other hand, I really didn't love it. There were spiritual "danger, danger" signals going off now and then. I did not like the seances, or the use of Ouija boards. While I wanted Tom's story to be told, the facts to be discovered, I just wish the clues they'd followed hadn't been received the way they had. Because it is a matter of faith--and reading is subjective--I went with a full five stars. My objection to the book's content in that one area is completely subjective. Another reader may think the mystery is amazing. And the writing was so strong, so good.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 comment:

Milo Anderson said...

Good book review! ALthough I have not heard about the author before, following your review I will give a read to this book and I hope it impresses me too.