Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Gap Creek

Image result for gap creek"Gap Creek" by Robert Morgan, is the story of a young girl named Julie, set in the Appalachian high country in the final years of the nineteenth century. We are introduced to her when her brother dies a horrible, quite graphic death in her arms. She soon loses her father as well as is burdened with assuming the responsibility of her father in taking care of the family farm. She is 15 when she is swept off her feet by Hank Richards. He marries her and takes her to live in a small cabin in Gap Creek where he rents a room from Mr. Pendergast in exchange for meals and upkeep of the place. 

Julie’s story is one of hard work and heartbreak. Her life is a hard frontiering life . She quickly learns that marriage can be difficult as well. Things start out well for the marriage despite Mr. Pendergast demeaning treatment of Julie and often times crude remarks. The challenge of growing food and raising and slaughtering animals leads to a devastating accident that changes the course of their lives quite dramatically. 

Julie’s story is one of work, love, determination and heartache. She is faced with hope and regret, in her decisions and handles most things with the maturity I know I didn’t have at 15 or 16 years of age. She is quite the amazing young lady. Julie’s inner strength somehow pulls her through her challenges. She relates it this way. 

 “Then I took a bucket and rag and washed the floor. It made me feel strong to get down on my knees on those rough boards. It was like a morning prayer, kneeling on the cold boards and crawling backwards to rub away any dirt with the rag. As I scrubbed the floor I was s rubbing part of the world. And I was scrubbing my mind to make it clear. It was work that made me think clear, and it was work that made me humble. I could never talk fast, and I could never say what I meant to people, or tell them what they meant to me. My tongue never loosened my feelings. It was with my hands and with my back and shoulders that I could say how I felt. I had to talk with my arms and my strong hands.”

 She spends a lot of time alone in that cabin on Gap Creek until she opens her heart and home to the local Christian church. This part was a relief for me, to finally see her find the support of other women that she needed so desperately. 

"The world wouldn't have lasted this long if women didn't help each other," Elizabeth said.
"The world would be a better place if people helped each other more," Joannes said.
That night as I laid in bed, I kept thinking about how kind Joanne and Elizabeth had been to me. It made me feel growed up and kind myself to be treated that way. It made me feel like I was a bigger person. They made me want to be better.

 The author does a fantastic job of getting inside a woman’s mind and describing those thoughts and feelings of connection and interaction that women have with one another. Another example of that is when Julie has her first baby, all by herself in the cabin. The description of labor and childbirth are so accurate and beautiful. I could relate to every word. 

There were a few parts of the book that I didn’t care for. The scene of her brother dying was pretty graphic and gross. There are also several scenes of intimacy. Although they are between husband and wife and therefore moral, I still did not want to read about it and skipped as much as I could. If I were to recommend a book in this genre, I would recommend a different one. Although it was a good book, I can think of others I would recommend first.  

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