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Monday, March 12, 2012

"The Lost Saints of Tennessee"

bu Amy Franklin-Willis, AF, 2012, 320p, rating=4
Source:  library

With enormous heart and dazzling agility, Amy Franklin-Willis expertly mines the fault lines in one Southern working-class family. Driven by the soulful voices of forty-two-year-old Ezekiel Cooper and his mother, Lillian, The Lost Saints of Tennessee journeys from the 1940s to 1980s as it follows Zeke’s evolution from anointed son, to honorable sibling, to unhinged middle-aged man.
After Zeke loses his twin brother in a mysterious drowning and his wife to divorce, only ghosts remain in his hometown of Clayton, Tennessee. Zeke makes the decision to leave town in a final attempt to escape his pain, throwing his two treasured possessions—a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and his dead brother’s ancient dog—into his truck, and heads east. He leaves behind two young daughters and his estranged mother, who reveals her own conflicting view of the Cooper family story in a vulnerable but spirited voice stricken by guilt over old sins and clinging to the hope that her family isn’t beyond repair.
When Zeke finds refuge with cousins in Virginia horse country, divine acts in the form of severe weather, illness, and a new romance collide, leading Zeke to a crossroads where he must decide the fate of his family. (Goodreads)

I really liked this read.  The unfolding of Zeke's struggles with life after the death of his twin brother was interesting.  Added spice was brought from the background told from his mother Lillian's point of view.  The author did a great job at making the see-sawing between the past (1940s) to the current (1980s) work.  On occasions this type of see-saw writing confuses me but it wasn't the case for this book.  In fact, it added richness to the story.  This was so in that the story was sad but through the telling of the events, the read wasn't depressing.  I was able to feel the pain, the confusion, the stumbling block, and the gist of mid-life crisis.  I certainly would be in a lull for a long while if I lost my sister.

This is a good debut novel.  A wonderful book addition to take on a summer read or if you like Southern family stories with heartbreak.  Kudos to the author!


  1. Sounds like a book that needs to go on my wish list. Thanks! I love Southern stories...

  2. You're welcome. It was different.

  3. Thanks so much for the review of Lost Saints, Jinky. I'm thrilled that you found it a meaningful read! And I do think it would make nice company at the beach this summer :)

    Amy Franklin-Willis


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