After his mother is killed, four-year-old Clay Sizemore finds himself alone in a small Appalachian mining town. Read more...
After his mother is killed, four-year-old Clay Sizemore finds himself alone in a small Appalachian mining town. At first, unsure of Free Creek, he slowly learns to lean on its residents as family. There's Aunt Easter, who is always filled with a sense of foreboding, bound to her faith above all; quiltmaking Uncle Paul; untamable Evangeline; and Alma, the fiddler whose song wends it way into Clay's heart. Together, they help Clay fashion a quilt of a life from what treasured pieces surround him. . . . "A long love poem to the hills of Kentucky. It flows with Appalachian music, religion, and that certain knowledge that your people will always hold you close. . . . Like the finely stitched quilts that Clay's Uncle Paul labors over, the author sews a flawless seam of folks who love their home and each other."
"Unpretentious and clear-eyed . . . A tale whose joys are as legitimate as its sorrows."
-The Roanoke Times
A slice of contemporary Appalachian life set in the Kentucky hills, this debut novel is centered around a young coal miner named Clay. A good-hearted protagonist, Clay lost his mother at the age of four and never knew his father, but the inhabitants of his small hometown serve as a surrogate family: his best friend Cake, his lovely cousin Dreama, his pious Aunt Easter. When they're not working Clay and Cake haunt the local honky tonks, and Clay soon sets his sights on Alma, a talented fiddle player cut off from her mean-spirited husband and her family. When Clay is given a box of his mother's belongings, the past comes back to haunt him as he learns the truth about her life. Rendered in remarkable detail, the melancholy mountains of Kentucky add a layer of longing to the novel. Without lapsing into sentimentality, House has crafted a moving narrative about the meaning of home and the importance of family. A reading group guide is included the book.