Saturday 4 February 2012

Carry Me Home by Terri Wiltshire

Carry Me Home by Terri Wiltshire was published in 2009, part of the MacMillan New Writing series.

Terri Wiltshire is a former journalist and college lecturer from Alabama. She lived in Wales as a child, and returned to live there full time in 1988.

She has written six books for children, and Carry Me Home is her first novel.

There are some books that evoke the strongest of emotions in a reader, for me, this was not just a story to read, but a bit of a roller-coaster of an emotional trip too.

 It's only February, but I may have already found my 'book of the year'. It really is a wonderful, wonderful novel and I'd happily recommend it to everyone.

America's Deep South in the early 1900s - a young white girl returns home bruised, with her gown torn. The blame is laid firmly at the feet of the hobo population in town, the vagrants who 'ride the rails'; jumping from train to train, and town to town, looking for work along the way.

That girl is Emma Scott, the result of that night is her son Luke. This is Luke's story, told alongside the modern-day story of his great neice Canaan. Canaan spent her formative years desperately longing to leave small-town Landar, and eventually made it to the bright lights of New York City. She's arrived back in Landar, on the verge of divorce and full of bitterness and regret.

Canaan has always been Luke's champion - he spent his life being hated by his overbearing Mother, and laughed at by the townsfolk. Canaan spent her life trying to prove that she is better than the unusual family that she was born into.

Emma Scott is probably the most hateful fictional mother that I've ever come across. Not once was she shown to have even one ounce of compassion of love in her bones, she used everyone that she came across and vented her hateful feelings on her family - most of all, on Luke.

 Her first-born who she blamed for everything that didn't happen in her life. Luke was made to live outside, to fend for himself and struggle to survive. Despite this treatment, Luke is a kind and compassionate man, a man with a big heart who given the opportunity would care for anyone who showed him a little kindness.

This really is a stunning piece of work, full of characters who will remain in my mind for quite a while yet, alongside a complex and involved plot line that flows beautifully back and forth from modern day to the past.

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