This book is set in 1936 rural Tennessee and the story line includes an historical event that had already changed the lives of the people who had lived there for decades. President Franklin Roosevelt signed into a law the Tennessee Valley Authority Act which put in motion the construction of publicly-owned hydroelectric power facilities by harnessing the power of rivers, which were always overflowing and causing devastating flooding. The law was enacted ostensibly to bring rural areas more modernization and electricity.
As the story opens, most of James and Annie Clyde Dodson’s neighbors have already taken the government’s offer and left the area. James and Annie Clyde, along with their daughter Gracie, are the last to be evicted and even in the days leading up to the deadline, Annie Clyde is reluctant to give in even though James has already relocated to Detroit and has come back to gather their belongings and his family and leave for good.
It was not an easy thing for Annie Clyde to leave the land she was raised on. The land was passed to her when her parents died. When she is confronted by the government agent she expresses her desire to pass it on to Gracie – “this is not my farm”, she said…”I have a little girl. It belongs to her.” So adamant is she that she was willing to have Gracie see her taken away in handcuffs – “I want her to know I fought for what was hers.”
When a local character with a shadowy past and a tendency to wander in and out of Yuneetah from time to time arrives without notice, and Gracie suddenly disappears just two days before the deadline, James and Annie Clyde and the local authorities, along with TVA representatives, are desperate to find her – dead or alive – before everything is washed away when the dam is opened.
Amos, the shady character, known more for his odd behavior, is the prime suspect.
The story is divided into six chapters – the second through the fourth chronicling the days leading up to the deadline and the search for Gracie. The author alternates between the present and the past to tell the “back story” which includes other characters throughout the book – the sheriff, Annie Clyde’s only living relative, her aunt Silver, Amos, Amos’ adopted mother Beulah and more.
It’s a haunting tale, a rich and well-told story, but just be aware that it is not what I would call a “straight-line narrative”. I love authors, though, that utilize language so vivid that you just feel like you’re “there”. This book is like that, although it did take me a bit to get into it. Once I found the author’s rhythm it was quite enjoyable. This is author Amy Greene’s second book (Bloodroot was her first).
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2014.