"Inspired by Sam Halpern's childhood in rural Kentucky, A Far Piece to Canaan tells the story of Samuel Zelinsky, a celebrated but troubled retired professor who reluctantly returns after his wife's death to visit a farm in the Kentucky hills where he lived as a child. The son of sharecroppers, Samuel has long since left that life behind-yet now must reconnect with long-buried memories in order to achieve peace.
Delving into the events of 1945, Sam recalls Fred Mulligan, the hired hand's bright and spirited ten-year-old son. Together with two neighbor boys, Samuel and Fred visit the Blue Hole, a legendary pool on the Kentucky River where the hill people believe an evil force lurks. The boys find the body of a dog, surrounded by twisted human footprints, and later discover a cave that offers other evidence that something terrible has transpired. Fearing that they'll be punished for their trespasses, the boys initiate a series of cover-ups and lies that eventually lead to a community disaster.
Now, decades later, Sam is devastated to learn from a fellow classmate about Fred's tragic life story in the years that followed-and manages to make contact with his troubled granddaughter, Lisa June. Though at first she rejects his attempts to reach out to her, through persistence and patience Samuel finally manages to establish a connection, becoming a kind of surrogate grandfather to Lisa June-and finally achieving peace through his late return to Canaan land."
Heading home is never easy, but for Sam Zelinski it's incredibly difficult. His history in Kentucky comes back in snippets as the past and present are seamlessly woven together. The details were excellent -- setting, descriptions, etc. and Sam was a fabulous main character. He made me care about his story and want to know what was going to come next.
The dialect was, at times, a bit hard to understand and made for slow reading. It's also a book about boyhood friends and, therefore, was more "colorful" than a book I'd typically read, but it fit the time, place, and characters well. Overall, a pretty great summer read.
Thanks to TLC Blog Tours for having me! Check out the rest of the tour here.