Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hazel Creek - Larimore

*This book was an advanced reading copy sent to me, free of charge, for my honest review and opinion.  All comments in this review are the honest opinion of the blogger.

Hazel Creek by Walt Larimore is a sweet story about a family living in the Smoky Mountains in the 1920's. Times are tough, especially on a farm in the mountains, but love abounds and family and friends are aplenty.

Told from the point of view of the eldest daughter, Abbie Randolph, we learn all about the evil-doings of a greedy lumber company and its staff who are trying to strip the mountain for profit, the rules and expectations of "courtin", what a real-life "Haint" (ghost) looks like, and a whole lot about how to love and be loved by the Lord.

I have mixed feelings about this book...

On one hand, the story is lovely and the writing is beautiful.  It easily evokes the vision and feeling of the 1920's Smokey Mountains, forests, creeks and nature.  You immediately fall in love with the Randolph family (especially "Pa" who you cannot help but imagine as Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie). You quickly fall into the rhythm of their speech and find yourself repeating it to your family unknowingly. You cheer the family as they struggle, celebrate their successes, and lament their sadness.

On the other hand, this was clearly a christian novel.

Now, to be fair, I was better than half way through the book until I noticed it.  The author gently shared the family's belief in God and religion at first, which I totally understood and believed in relation to the story. I was totally comfortable with its inclusion in the story and felt a kin-ship with the family's religion. About midway through, however, the author began to provide Bible references every time someone said something/anything that could be backed up by Bible verses. For me, this got annoying quickly. What a waste!

My other complaint would be the whole book was a bit hokey. I don't read a lot of christian lit, but what I have read has always been too...simple. Just because someone believes in God doesn't mean they are too stupid, lazy or mind-controlled to wrap their minds around anything more than good vs bad, good guy wins. How about a christian story that truly expects the reader to think, to rediscover and/or reevaluate and strengthen their faith?

Overall this is a nice story, though I would expect it would have a limited audience. If you are looking for an easily readable christian lit book, or if you can ignore the religious parts in exchange for the history and feel of the times, its a great book. For others... 

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.