Saturday, September 26, 2015

Neverhome, by Laird Hunt

Ash Thompson is a pseudonym adopted by the heroine of Neverhome, who leaves her Indiana farm to fight in the Civil War because "I was strong and he [her husband] was not, so it was me went to war to defend the Republic." Anyone who has ever read anything about the Civil War will be unsurprised to learn that the experience is beyond horrific. But Ash is courageous and resourceful--as well as strong--and manages to survive until she is betrayed by a nurse who helped her recover from a battle wound.

That betrayal leaves her imprisoned in an insane asylum; when she manages to escape, she begins the long walk back to her farm. On the trek, she experiences both kindness and brutality, but her arrival home is also problem-laden, leading to a somewhat bewildering conclusion.

I found the latter half of the book very confusing. Often, I couldn't distinguish between Ash's dreams and reality (perhaps that is because she couldn't either?) or understand why certain things happened (why was she confined to an asylum instead of a prison, since the nurse reported her as a spy?). I look forward to deepening my understanding at our next Novel Conversations meeting and/or at various One Book One Broomfield events, since this is the choice for the 10th year of the program. While the language is often lovely, I would not at this point recommend the book--perhaps if my confusion clears, I'll change my mind.

Favorite passages:
Today I pose questions that deepen silence, rather than conclude it. That is the province of literature, not leadership. (said by a Union officer)

There is shelter and then there is the idea of shelter. Shore up under the second all you want. You still get wet.

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