When Stone Wings Fly: A Smoky Mountains Novel

Written by Karen Barnett
Review by Bonnie DeMoss

In the present day, Kieran Lucas’s grandmother, “Granny Mac,” is slipping away, her memories clouded by dementia. Granny Mac is also having disturbing flashbacks of her mother’s death and the loss of her home. Hoping to bring her peace, Kieran heads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find answers. In 1931, Rose McCauley’s Smoky Mountain home is threatened by the creation of a new national park. Then she makes a compromise that could change everything, but will bootleggers operating near her home let this agreement stand?

This book transports us to Appalachia in the 1930s and captures the heart of the mountain people, as well as their connection to the land. The absolute upheaval when many families had to leave the area and relocate for the park is well described. The vivid pictures of the mountain scenery painted by Karen Barnett made me feel as if I was seeing the Smokies with my own eyes. For example, “Wisps of clouds draped over the forested hillsides in the distance, like so many white silk veils” perfectly describes the beautiful covering of shifting clouds draping the Smokies that we see today. This book is true to life and true to history. The meaning of the land and of family connections is so powerful and real. Rose’s determination to care for her sister and honor her late parents and family name is carried on by Kieran, who wants to honor her grandmother with the truth. There are two sweet romances in this powerful book, but the main message can be summed up by a quote from Rose: “If a bird wants to fly free, first it has to release the branch.”