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Book Review

‘Where All Light Tends To Go’


Deep in the Appalachian Mountains near rural Cashiers, North Carolina, the McNeely family persists in its legacy of drugs and violence. Eighteen-year-old Jacob wants out but is resigned to his fate: “There was no escaping who I was or where I’d come from.” In his beautiful yet brutal novel, author David Joy insightfully portrays a young man ensnared in grim circumstances that leave little room for hope.

‘Where All Light Tends To Go’ By David Joy Putnam March 3, 2015 $26.95 272 pp Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

‘Where All Light Tends To Go’
By David Joy
March 3, 2015
272 pp
Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Jacob’s volatile father heads a methamphetamine ring and would “slip a knife in (his) throat while (he) slept if the mood hit him right.” His hopeless “crank-head” mother is rarely sober and lives out her days in a shack nearby, dope ransacking her body and mind. Resigned to his role in the family, Jacob drops out of high school to work for his abusive dad, wanting to believe that one day he’ll receive pay for the hours that his dad claims to log. With a remarkable, authentic voice, Joy gives us a raw view of the uncompromising life Jacob sees no way of changing. “I’d let what I was born into control what I’d become. Mama snorted crystal, Daddy sold it to her, and I’d never had the balls to leave.”

When Jacob’s father has him dispose of a snitching employee and the murder goes awry in a horrifying scene, Joy intensifies the pace and we are carried along on a suspenseful, harrowing ride. Jacob’s dark, violent days are punctuated by his childhood friend and ex-girlfriend, Maggie Jennings. A bright contrast to what he faces at home, she is all that is good, pretty and intelligent. CV

Fay Jones was born with a love of literature, which was finely shored up throughout her early years by her parents and a beloved children’s librarian who wore the thickest glasses ever manufactured. Ms. Jones once won a coupon for a free ice cream cone after her suggestion for a name for the local Reading Is Fundamental mascot was selected. 


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