Byrdie Lamb was said to be one of those witches from Chickweed Holler, one who, as they say, had “the touch.” She gave birth to five children and buried four. Her last child, Clio, has a wandering, adventurous spirit and is not happy staying at home with Byrdie, so it comes as no surprise when she runs away to get married. One day Clio and her husband are killed, leaving behind their daughter, Myra. Byrdie’s relationship with Clio was never close, but she is devoted to Myra. They live together on Bloodroot Mountain, an inseparable pair. Byrdie shares her ways with her, and all is good until John Odom catches Myra’s eye. Like her mama before her, Myra leaves Bloodroot Mountain to get married.
At this point, the reader picks up the story from Myra’s children’s point of view. They are twins, a son and a daughter. Myra’s life unfolds in Greene’s intricate, multilayered story that holds together like a carefully laid mosaic. Byrdie, Doug, John Odom, Laura Odom Blevins, and finally Myra share a piece of the tale, adding dimensions from their memories of the past as the truth reveals itself through them. The expressive, tangible characters breathe with a hint of Appalachia in their souls. Their story takes place from 1929, at the beginning of the Great Depression, through today.
The pain of the characters, breathtakingly warm and genuine, will penetrate deep into your heart. Greene’s story about family, forgiveness and healing is summarized beautifully in her words: “It’s not forgetting that heals. It’s remembering.”
Although told with a smooth, measured cadence, the story moves with unstoppable momentum. Sobbing as the final pages were read, I sat motionless, deep in thought with the opened book on my lap. A poignant debut with emotional depth.