Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bone's Gift

I'm a big fan of Appalachian lit and stories about characters who have special powers—think Sharyn McCrumb's ballad novels and her character Nora Bonestell who has the gift of second sight. In fact, my self-pubbed novel, Them That Go, is set in Appalachia and is told from the viewpoint of a character who has a special gift. So, when I heard that Roanoke resident Angie Smibert had a new novel that was set in Appalachia and had a character with a gift, I knew I had to read it. I pre-ordered a Kindle copy and read it in two nights.


(Disclaimer: I've known Angie for years, was in a crit group with her for a while, and have reviewed a couple of her YA dystopian novels on this blog: Memento Nora and The Forgetting Curve.)


Bone's Gift is a fine example of Appalachian literature. While it's promoted as a book for middle graders, it has something to offer readers of all ages. Set in 1942 in Big Vein, a mining town along the New River, the novel deals with young Bone's curiosity about her mother and Bone's releationships with other members of her family.

The back cover sets up the premise:


Bone Phillip's need to know drives the novel's narrative. Bone—real name Laurel, but called Bone from a kind of coal that contains rock—can receive impressions from things she touches, a gift that sometimes is unpleasant. Gifts run in her family—her Mamaw can use plants to heal, an uncle can diagnose problems that animals have, and her deceased mother could heal the sick or injured. Bone is curious about her mother's death. All anyone will tell her is that her mother died of influenza. Meanwhile, Bone's life is in turmoil. Her father is being called to report for active duty, so Bone will have to live with her religious-fanatic aunt who doesn't believe in the gifts. Bone's best friend Will drops out of school to work in the mine. Bone has been foridden to go across the river to visit Mamaw. A bright spot in Bone's life is that Miss Spencer, a collector of stories, has come to the area, and Bone—who likes to tell stories—offers to help her. And Bone finds her way around some of the obstacles in her path.

Bone's Gift is a wonderful story—rich in aspects of Appalachian lit—and it works on several levels. It' a book that mothers would enjoy reading with their daughters. And it would be a good choice for  a book club (it includes notes from the author). Although complete in itself, Bone's Gift is the first in a series of three "Ghosts of Ordinary Objects." I'm looking forward to reading Lingering Echos in 2019 and The Truce in 2020.

Note: I did notice an error in the ebook version. The link to Ferrum College's AppLit website is incorrect. it should be http://www2.ferrum.edu/AppLit/.
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