I picked up Amy Greene’s novel Bloodroot because it is set in the Appalachian Mountains as is the book I’m working on writing. I was curious to see if my mountains were anything like hers. As it turns out, aside from being set in the same mountains, my story is nothing like Greene’s but reading her take on the mountains was helpful to me in getting a different perspective on setting and I enjoyed the writing and story development as well.
Greene’s novel traces a family of who live on Bloodroot Mountain and have a unique and fascinating culture and world that is completely different from my own. I was drawn in by the plot and characters, but what I found most interesting about the novel was the complex culture and way of life Greene expertly draws out. The extreme poverty and hard living the characters go through really color the way the physical setting emerges – in a life with very little beauty and margin, the beauty of the woods and streams and mountains enriches and animates some characters and makes others feel angry and trapped. In a sense, the physical setting acted like a character in itself.
The book does contain a lot of cruelty, some violence, and depictions of extreme hardship that might be difficult for extremely sensitive or young readers, but I think these issues are handled well and important to the story and world the book depicts. I enjoyed Bloodroot and would recommend it.
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