Category Archives: Hays, Tommy

Tommy Hays. What I Came to Tell You. New York: Egmont USA, 2013.

whatWhen tragedy strikes, it can bring a family closer together–or tear it apart.  Jean Johnston was a school counselor and a great mother to her children, Grover and Sudie.  She made her husband Walt laugh and kept him from becoming a complete workaholic.  After Jean dies rescuing the family dog from traffic, Walt retreats into his work.  He is the director of the Old Kentucky Home, the Thomas Wolfe historic site in Asheville, North Carolina.  The site has reopened after a fire, but attendance is down from what it once was, and the county commissioners, especially Delbert Lunsford, are reluctant to give the site much more support.  Asheville is booming and the Old Kentucky Home sits on some valuable land that could be developed for something more commercial.

There is also a lot prime for development right next to the Johnston family home in the Montford neighborhood.  The lot is overrun with bamboo and “the Bamboo Forest” has become Grover’s retreat.  Grover has found an outlet for his artistic talent and his grief by creating weavings from bamboo, leaves, and other bits of nature.  He carries these weavings to his mother’s grave, a place that he and Sudie go to several times a week.  Although Grover is grieving, he is not so lost in his grief that he doesn’t watch out for Sudie.  And while their dad is inattentive, other adults–at school and in the neighborhood–watch out for the children.  Those concerned adults–especially Jessie, a neighbor who does a lot of landscape work at the cemetery and Leila, a nurse who rents a house in the neighborhood–aid the Johnstons when Delbert Lunsford tries to destroy the bamboo forest, and they help each family member move beyond anger and grief.

Readers will enjoy this gentle book for its portrayal of how a warm community helps people to heal.  Readers who know Asheville will like the many mentions of local business and locations and with how their town is portrayed.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Buncombe, Children & Young Adults, Hays, Tommy, Mountains

Brian Lee Knopp. Naked Came the Leaf Peeper. Asheville, NC: Burning Bush Press of Asheville, 2011.

What happens when you mix twelve of western North Carolina’s most adept storytellers with one impossible plot? The answer is Naked Came the Leaf Peeper, a merry and mysterious game of literary tag among the likes of Vicki Lane, John P. McAfee, Tony Earley, and Alan Gratz. Brian Lee Knopp, the mastermind behind this zany novel, begins the plot: high on an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a man falls to his death…helped by a young assassin armed with a potato gun. Improbable? Absurd? The fun is only just beginning.

Garnell Lee Ray, assassin-for-hire, is out to avenge her mother and father, murdered for their land by greedy developers and their compatriots. She has knocked off three of the four with her simple, yet effective style: the use of gravity. A man overbalances on an overlook, helped along by a stray potato. Another is crushed by a conveniently placed tree. Gunning down the first was a mistake, but not one that the savvy Garnell will make again. Now the only one left is rapacious State Senator Andy Micheaux…and Garnell is coming for him. Unfortunately, someone gets to Garnell first, and she is highly annoyed to find herself passing out from a gunshot wound at her campsite in Linville Falls. She survives, but getting shot raises questions, even in the Appalachians. Relocated Yankee detective J.D. Kontz has a lot of questions for the attractive Miss Ray, but she escapes from the hospital before providing any real answers. Still, Detective Kontz begins to piece together Garnell’s tale, despite the clumsy ministrations of his dim-witted deputy, Marshall Harris. In fact, if he didn’t know better, Kontz would suspect the Fife-like deputy to be purposely misleading him.

Buckle up as this story weaves through the switchbacks at breakneck speed in a plot including (but not limited to): llamas, Baptists, golf, the Blue Ridge Parkway, moonshine, first love, runaway wives, pigs, tourists, heathen Yankees, beagles, ladies selling Mary Kay, gun-toting grannies, the SBI, ravens, backstabbing relations, secret agents of all different kinds, camping, and folk tunes. So grab some biscuits and red-eye, y’all, and gather round for the tallest tale ever told!

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

This is our 1000th post. We’ll be celebrating and hope that you will too.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Avery, Barrett, Linda Marie, Buncombe, Caldwell, Wayne, Chappell, Fred, Cheek, Gene, Clapsaddle, Annette Saunooke, Earley, Tony, Gratz, Alan, Hays, Tommy, Knopp, Brian Lee, Lane, Vicki, Madison, McAfee, John P., Mitchell, Mountains, Mystery, Reinhardt, Susan, Romance/Relationship, Suspense/Thriller