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Worthy's Town by Sharon Rolens

Novel by first-time author, chosen and edited by Alexandra Shelley for Bridge Works: Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers Award" finalist

Reviews

Full Review:

"Old Kane, Ill., is ground zero for this folksy, smalltown narrative, a first novel rife with resilient do-gooders, town idiots and villains, sexual initiations, dubious parentage and two possible cases of murder. In 1925, Worthy and Willa Giberson, a farm couple in middle age, rear their grandson Cappy after his single 14-year-old mother, Chastity, dies in childbirth. Evil Drayton Hunt presents himself almost immediately as Cappy's father, vowing to "claim what's mine." He's rebuffed by grouchy-but-honorable Worthy and saintly Willa, but over the next several years swoops in periodically to menace Worthy and the town's other denizens as they gather around the stove at Pick's General Store to drink coffee and gossip. Inquisitive and irrepressible Cappy turns a childhood propensity for good-natured lying into a career as a fledgling journalist at the county newspaper. His slow-witted uncle Tick leaves home with the traveling Rev. Art Gimmy and becomes a performing "healer"--developing his own, lucrative brand of storytelling. By 1944, when Cappy's boyhood friend Beany Ozbun returns on leave from the army, Old Kane simmers with sinister undercurrents, racing toward tragedy, and Cappy plays amateur sleuth to uncover the biggest story of his life. With the backdrop of the Depression and WWII to provide a sure sense of time and place, the tale overflows with characters exhibiting country-folk quirkiness. Often awkward but humorous and engaging dialogue punctuate this nostalgic story of rural America, in which the complexity of smalltown human relationships brings depth to the murder-mystery plot that ensues." - Publisher's Weekly

Excerpted:

“Rolens dips heavily into nostalgia for her first novel, a charming coming-of-age tale set in southwestern Illinois in the years before and during World War II. … a beautiful view of the Great Depression and America at home during World War II; a finely honed character study of a town and its inhabitants, good and bad; and a classic tale of orchestrated retribution. The over-50 generation may especially enjoy this reminiscence of a simpler time, deftly combined with an engaging story of human foibles that never stoops to sentimentality. Recommended for all public libraries” – Library Journal

"Novels praising the spirit, friendship, and little triumphs of small town folk are certainly not rare, but seldom is it captured with the kind of easy grace and understanding that Rolens shows in this first novel. In stripped-down prose as beautifully simple as a cornfield at dusk, the author tells the story of small town Old Kane from the Depression to World War II." - ForeWord Reviews