Sunday, February 2, 2014
I started reading Treadwell by Dana Joy Wyzard at 6:30 last night, and finished at 11:30 because I couldn't put the damn book down. The Bourne Identity was on for the first time in my life, and I didn't even watch it.
As a Hoosier, I have a tender spot in my heart for this god-forsaken state that has schizophrenic weather. When I can read about it through someone else's eyes, I can never resist seeing it through a different perspective, a different set of circumstances.
I have 78 pages of books on my Kindle account, and have read them all. I have read all the greats, I have read Slaughter House 5, and I have read Twilight. I will read anything that gets me interested in the characters, or that makes me feel like I know them, can relate to them.
This is one of those books.
I am not a book critic, I usually just annoy people until I convince them just to read whatever I am telling them, saying, "You HAVE to read this!"
This is one of those books.
The book takes place in a small town in Southern Indiana, setting the stage for Nelda. I immediately was attached to Nelda, because Nelda is my future. Independent, stubborn, fiercely loyal, and looks older than what she is. I love it when the heroine of the story is described as a real person. Too often, authors write of women saying something to the effect of main character doesn't realize she's beautiful in nontraditional way, blah blah blah. Here in the real world (Indiana) women age, damn it. I like that Nelda was a sixty-something woman who didn't give a shit if she looked a day over seventy. These are the kinda women we should want our daughters to read about, women that embrace their age as experience, who can take care of themselves, and for the love of God, know how to load a shotgun. Wosie, Nelda's best friend, a spit-fire who takes care of her business, as well as making a stand for social justice of minorities. One of my favorite parts of the book is the introduction of Wosie, an entrepreneur of a small town bait-n-tackle/grocery/hair salon, and her firm stance in taking on two African American men in an all-white town.
As Wyzard opens the book, I swear I could see exactly what she was describing, from Gladys' home to Nelda's sparkling clean house. When Nelda breaks the window to her friends house, I swear I hear the window break. Even as the character focus shifts, I never felt whiplash, and most importantly, I have a tendency to skip certain character's points of view in a story, feeling like some are boring or not as well written. I never skipped a page.
The book opens up with the death of Nelda's friend, in the hills of Southern Indiana. Meanwhile, south of the River, (for ya'll not familiar with geographical terms such as 'south of the river', that would be the Ohio River, south of which lies Kentucky) a storm is a brewin. We meet young Laura, who has just graduated from high school, whose mother marries a douchebag (sorry, it's true) with a son of his own. Not only are these men both abusive type-A assholes, they are also involved in the complicated drug cartel and web of meth labs that has become my dear state, and those of my southern neighbors. After killing Laura's mother, spinning the story, then heading North, they stop at the small town of Treadwell, where their cousin is a cop. Meanwhile, Laura is on her own, not knowing where she is going to go, or what to do, as her mother is now murdered, and due to the expansive network of drugs and deceit, is a smart enough girl to know that her life is in jeopardy, does the only thing she can think to do: keep running. Nelda, takes in Laura, learns of what the girl was running from, and provides sanctuary for her, all the while trying to hide her identity. The town's holy-roller minister, however, throws a kink in Nelda's plans to shelter Laura, when he stops their vehicle by standing in the road, preaching fire and damnation, catching the ire of Maylene, who fancies herself to be the preacher's wife one day.
I can't continue to give you a play-by-play of this story, because I could sit here all day and talk about this book. What I want you to do is go read the book. I'd never steer you wrong when it comes to books.
This book is in my top 10 now. It will be a book that I revisit often, because I feel like Nelda and Wosie and Haverly and Laura are my kin, and because the book has a lot of humor. The characters are people you can relate to, and I think Wyzard set the scene so if you aren't from Indiana, you'll see that we take up for each other, that the hills and hollers that gently roll are full of folks that may not talk like you do, but would have your back if you got in a pickle.
Thanks for writing this book, Dana. I really can't say enough about it, and I hope that it isn't the last novel of yours I'll get to read. I wrote, and rewrote this post, wanting to do this book justice, but in the end, I had to just stop. This is a book something blogpost could never do justice, or maybe I'm incapable of recommending books beyond just telling folks to trust me, and for that, I apologize.
You can purchase the book at Amazon, and you can visit Dana's blog here.