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The Line That Held Us by David Joy – Book Review

Goodreads Synopsis:
From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.
When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

Happy week 3 of #SABRBOTMathon!  This week, I’m continuing with my stack of BOTMs that I seriously should have read many, many moons ago.  I’m actually getting to the point that I feel like BOTM should take precedent over the remainder of my TBRs.  Anyone else?  Just me?  Anyways, because of the setting, I felt such a strong connection to this book on a personal level (you’ll read more below).

In case y’all didn’t know, I’m a native of Western North Carolina.  My hometown actually just recently hosted the first ever Bigfoot Festival, and is also known for the Liver Mush Festival (trust me…don’t ask what’s in it. It’s just fried greasy goodness that is meant to be a mystery).  Even though my country twang has mellowed throughout my time in Chapel Hill, I prefer my tea unsweetened (I’m sure my entire congregation back home is praying for me with that one statement), and I married a Northerner (*gasp, clutches pearls*), I truly feel that WNC made me into the girl (woman?) I am today.  Plus, if you’ve never seen those leaves in the fall, you’re seriously missing out.


I loved discovering that the author currently lives in Sylva, NC, which is the “big city” adjacent from my brother’s alma mater, Western Carolina University (go Catamounts!).  You could really sense that Joy had an understanding of not only the environment that he is discussing, but also the social interactions and even the terminology.  Where I’m from, the vessel in which you carry your items in the Wal-Mart is called a “buggy,” not a “shopping cart.” We get our groceries from Ingles, not Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, or Kroeger.  People decide whether you’re good or bad based on your mama or daddy, grandma or grandpa, or some further extension of your family.  It was truly in these details that I was transported 3+ hours west on I-40.  Joy’s words sucked me in and created the 100% accurate atmosphere known as Appalachian (pronounced APP-UH-LATCH-IN, not APP-EE-LAY-SHUN… I won’t be told otherwise #sorrynotsorry).

All of the characters were so utterly relatable and evoked such empathy from me that I honestly could understand every decision that they made, regardless of if I supported them.  My heart broke for them all, and I truly found myself wishing for another reality, another scenario in which they could all live happily ever after.  Prejudices are real, and I believe this book brings to light just how easy it is to dehumanize an individual based on these prejudices.

Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed this book – the characters were complex, the situations were bleak, and the story was so well developed.  Get your hands on a copy!



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