Audiobook Review: A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

26 06 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash

Read by Nick Sullivan, Lorna Raver and Mark Bramhall

Harper Audio/Blackstone Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 56 Min

Genre: Literary Thriller

Quick Thoughts: A Land More Kind Than Home is a beautifully told small town tragedy that affectively enrages and saddens the reader.  Cash allows the story to slowly play out through the perspectives of three wonderful characters, and brings it all together in a devastating yet poignant ending.

Grade: A-

I have spent the vast majority of my life involved in some way or another with people with special needs. While I have only worked for my current employer, a home for people with severe physical and mental handicaps, for 10 years, my mother has worked with them for my entire life. The first four years I worked for this company I worked in a direct care role, interacting one on one with the clients of a building with around 40 residents. One thing people often say to me is that it takes a special kind of person to work with people with special needs. Sadly, this isn’t entirely true. There are many people who feel working with people with disabilities is a calling, or at least have a strong heart and are willing to open it to the residents of this community. Sadly, there are also plenty of people for who this is just simply a job. There are even a smaller percentage who bring their cultural and prejudicial attitudes into the workplace. More than once did I walk in on someone laying their hands on a client, and praying over them for healing. This was often without permission of the client or with respect to their own personal beliefs. Now, I have no problem with praying for people with disabilities, but I feel their personal beliefs should come into play, Also, the act of praying over them only goes to emphasis that there is something wrong with them. Even worst, I have had conversations with people who believe that the client’s conditions are a result of some sort of spiritual torment. I have had coworkers state their beliefs that demons cause their particular handicaps, or that it was a result of some past sin by their family. This often leaves me heartbroken when I hear it. The treatment of people with developmental and physical handicaps is something I am hypersensitive about in fiction, and was one of the issues that lead me to read A Land More Kind Than Home.

Wiley Cash’s literary thriller A Land More Kind Than Home is set in a small town Tobacco farming community in North Carolina. It is the tragic tale of a small community dominated by a charismatic preacher of a local church. Carson Chambliss, pastor of The River Road Church of Christ in Signs Following preaches that through Christ, all things are possible, from surviving fires and snake bites, to healing. Young Christopher Hall, called Stump by the townsfolk and loving brother, was born mute, and perhaps slow, and when Pastor Chambliss convinces his mother to bring him in for a healing, tragedy ensues. A Land More Kind Than Home follows the build up and fallout of this tragedy through the perspectives of Jess, Stumps younger brother, who secretly witnessed what happened that night, Adelaide Lyle, an older women and church elder who mistrusts Chambliss, and the local sheriff. A Land More Kind Than Home is told in a style that differs a lot from the types of novels I typically read. It is definitely more character driven, spending time developing the intricacies of the dynamics of the Hall family, as well as the back-stories of both Adelaide and the Sheriffs. While, often throughout the novel, I wanted to get back to the main narrative arch of the story, Cash pulls it all together well, showing how all these factors he explores affects how the current situation plays out. His characters are all lovingly developed and fully realized, except for maybe Pastor Carson Chambliss, who I felt pushed just a bit close to the evil, manipulative southern preacher archetype. I understood him more as a concepts more than a character, yet the concept was enough to have me despise him. A Land More Kind Than Home is a beautifully told small town tragedy that affectively enrages and saddens the reader.  Cash allows the story to slowly play out through the perspectives of three wonderful characters, and brings it all together in a devastating yet poignant ending.

Each of the three perspectives of this story is handles by a different narrator. Nick Sullivan perhaps has the biggest challenge taking on the perspective of 9 year old Jess Hall. Sullivan, of course, sounds older than the character’s age, but captures the nature and rhythms of his speech well.  Lorna Raver brings the southern matron Adelaide Lyn to life with authenticity. She delivers manages to capture the hard edge of this woman, while equally showing off her vulnerability is certain situations. Yet, I have to admit that Mark Bramhall’s performance was probably the highlight of the audiobook for me. He has a comforting, deep rich tone that fit Clem Barefield wonderfully yet manages to capture the complexities of this character, with both his strength and brokenness coming through. All three of this narrators deliver in bringing this novel to life, increasing the impact of the emotions of this story. A Land More Kind Than Home is the rare combination of storytelling and delivery that makes this novel something that fans of all types can embrace.



3 responses

26 06 2012
Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)

This audiobook is next up on my iPod and after skimming many reviews, I eagerly anticipate listening.

26 06 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I agree, Sullivan doesn’t exactly sound 9, but he captures a 9 year old better than many narrators can.

26 06 2012
Jennifer Conner (@LitHousewife)

Well said! Just reading about people praying over the disabled or spouting their beliefs on the nature of disabilities makes my eyelids twitch.

I see what you’re saying about Carson Chambliss. You are left to assume the worst about him. I’m okay with hating him, though.

The performances were outstanding. Mark Bramhall was especially amazing.

It was fun to share a review day with you.

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