Through the Needle’s Eye

Written by Linda Bledsoe
Review by Viviane Crystal

Jessie is living a life of fear, doubt and horrific abuse.  Her father drinks too much, shifts from job to job, and comes home mainly to beat up his passively accepting wife.  She still loves him, but Jessie’s hate also grows from childhood into young adulthood in her small town in the Blue Ridge foothills of southern Appalachia after World War II.  Jessie’s spitfire grandmother, Granny Isabelle, is her rock of support, comfort and love.  Granny is wearier than any person should have to be, but fierce in her faith, a belief spoken as “There’s good an’ evil all round us. Don’t never let darkness blot out that burstin’ light inside of ya…You can do almost anything, if ya got the gumption to reach for the stars and push through the needle’s eye.”

Two of the most tender scenes are those when Jesus holds and comforts Jessie, promising her she can break through her pain and suffering and will endure.  A similar scene occurs later in the novel as well.  For Jessie, Granny lives on long after she has passed away.  Jessie eventually breaks away from her family to gain an education and help through social work, therapy and “stacks of long-hand journals.”  For those who feel beaten down by life’s hardships or who know someone else dwelling in a similar nightmare, read and relish this book celebrating unconditional love, redemption and deliverance.  Remarkable historical fiction that evokes the hard, realistic aspects of Appalachian life.