BLOODROOT by Amy Greene

Book Quote:

“I’ve heard bloodroot’s good for curing croup, and it’s even been used for treating certain kinds of cancer. Some of it we kept for ourselves, to use on poison ivy and warts. I’ve known bloodroot to last in a cool, dark place for up to two years. It will also kill a horse. Daddy told me so last spring, the last time we went up the mountain to dig.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (JAN 21, 2010)

Somewhere, in the darkest and most remote part of Tennessee, lie hollers, ridges, and knolls. Set among them is a place named Bloodroot Mountain, home to Myra and her granny. The mountain gets its name from the bloodroot flowers that grow there. These flowers are so toxic that they can cause death. They are also so curative that they have amazing healing powers.

Myra’s granny comes from a long line of women with special powers – empathics, visionaries, healers and witches. Myra is woven into her family history and the seams of the mountain. She knows every creek and every trail. The mountain smells and essence sustain her and give her life. She is at home there and has known nowhere else nor does she want to leave her home. Bloodroot Mountain is where her heart is.

For the most part, Myra is a good girl and loves her granny. However, she becomes smitten with a teenaged boy named Johnny and all good sense leaves her. Despite the fact that he is no good, she runs off with him and finds herself stuck in a life of despair, abuse and entrapment. She can’t return to Bloodroot Mountain because Johnny has threatened to harm her granny if she leaves.

Myra becomes pregnant and gives birth to twins, Johnny and Laura. A large part of the book is about them. For the first several years of their lives, Myra raises them alone on Bloodroot Mountain after having escaped from Johnny. She doesn’t want anyone to know of their existence for fear they will be taken from her. She does her best to be a loving mother, but when a traumatic event occurs it breaks her already fragile being and she is no longer able to care for herself or her children.

Laura is quiet and reasonable. Johnny is bitter and acts out. They are placed in foster homes by the state while their mother is placed in an insane asylum. Johnny does not last long in foster care and ends up in one detention center after another. Laura is malleable and acts like a “good girl” so as to stir up no tensions.

The novel takes us through about thirty years, from Myra’s childhood to her children’s young adulthood. We go through their high points and low points and are surprised by how the children’s lives intersect with that of their mother’s. The reader is in for many wonderful surprises.

The book is written in a beautifully flowing narrative with shades of magical realism and fantastical imagery. The style works well. Characters in this book are reminiscent of Alice Hoffman’s and even Charles Dickens’. They are looking for redemption, live in the most challenging of conditions and exhibit a true nobility of spirit.

This is a book to be cherished and read slowly, not at one sitting. There is so much beauty in the words that one must take the time to take it all in and let it set slowly like a cautious breath. The words need to be nourished by time and thought. It is a wonderful book that will take you into the land, minds and hearts of characters you will never forget.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 162 readers
PUBLISHER: Knopf; 1 edition (January 12, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Excerpt
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January 21, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Literary, US South

One Response

  1. PattisPages - March 14, 2011

    I must be the only person on the planet who did not particularly like this book, but it’s always good to read an enlightened opposing opinion. Thanks!

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