Growing up in False River, Mississippi, Clea Shine learned early that a small town is no place for big secrets. Having fled years ago in the wake of a tragedy and now settled with a family of her own, she faces a turning point in her marriage and seeks refuge in the one place she vowed never to return.
Clea s homecoming is bittersweet. Reunited with Jerusha Lovemore, the kindly neighbor who raised her, Clea gains a sense of love and comfort, but still cannot escape the ghosts of her past: the abandonment by her disreputable mother, her constant search for belonging, the truth behind that fateful night from long ago. Once outspoken and impulsive, Clea now seeks only redemption and peace of mind. And as a hurricane threatens to hit False River, everything she has tried to forget may finally be exposed once and for all.
A mesmerizing and poignant work by a master of the Soutern novel, Playing with Matches is a stunning tale of guilt, forgiveness, and the enduring bonds of family."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-21
- Reviewer: Staff
Wall’s stunning second novel (after Sweeping Up Glass) tells the heart-wrenching tale of Clea Shine, a precocious girl growing up in the shadow of a northern Mississippi prison in the 1980s. Clea, a white girl, has always lived with her black “aunt” Jerusha and Jerusha’s sister in False River, a stone’s throw from the house where her mother frequently entertains guards from the prison and other local men. Though she loves Auntie, Clea’s longing for her mother often sends her across Potato Shed Road, where she sees too much and gets too little from her mother. Meanwhile, Clea consorts with colorful characters including separated conjoined twins born with three arms between them, a boy who lives in a tree, and another boy being held captive under a neighbor’s house. Traumatized and heartsick, 12-year-old Clea flees after she sets fire to her mother’s house, with disastrous results, and only returns to False River two decades later when a tropical storm destroys her own house and she discovers that her husband is unfaithful. Wall’s talent and empathy are evident in this story of learning to forgive. Agent: Danny Baror, the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (July)