by William H. Armstrong
This is a companion book to Sounder
, and in my opinion, an even more moving book. Perhaps its power lies in its personal, intimate nature. Unlike Sounder
, this book is full of characters with lifelike names. It does not come across as a universal parablethough it may be thatbut as a portrait of a handful of very specific, individual people. People who are bound together by loss and by love, by hard work and the enjoyment of stories, by the unfolding of natures beautiful secrets, and by the grim reality of the ugliness that remains in the heart of man.
The book get its title from the soil in this corner of an unnamed, southern U. S. county, where the ground needs a lot of sweetening before anything will grow. Unfortunately, the title works just as well for some of the people who live on that land. For when a gentle, wise black man named Moses Waters befriends a white farmer named Anson Stonewho, with his three children, are just beginning to get over the loss of a wife and mothersome folks in the neighborhood do not take it kindly. The children learn from fresh troubles at school that love is worth making sacrifices; and they learn so much from Moses himself. Meanwhile, Anson finds life returning to his empty heart again.
I cannot get across to you how gentle, how peaceful, how filled with beauty this book isbut there are also dark shadows in it, and a growing threat that the only happy ending possible for this book is hidden in the hope of a better future.
Recommended Age: 10+
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