Tag Archives: Class struggle

Nicholas Sparks. The Best of Me. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2011.

Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole both live in Oriental, North Carolina, but they might as well be from different planets. Amanda is a daughter of one of the oldest, most respected families in the town, while Dawson’s kin make up the resident drunks, hoodlums, and moonshiners. But Dawson is different, and when he and Amanda bond over a high school chemistry assignment, their friendship soon turns to true love. When you’re seventeen and in love, life is difficult – Amanda’s parents are outraged at their daughter’s choice of boyfriend, and finally refuse to pay for college if she continues to date him. Divided, the two move far away from one another. Hardened by an unfair prison sentence and family violence that he barely escapes, Dawson finally finds refuge in New Orleans, but Amanda is always in his heart.

Years later, the death of a mutual friend reunites them in Oriental. In fulfilling their deceased friend’s final wishes, they begin to wonder if they might find happiness in life after all…but Amanda is married, and Dawson’s family has a long memory for revenge. With a compelling cast of small-town characters, a gripping plot, and just a touch of the supernatural, longtime fans of Nicholas Sparks will not be disappointed in his latest offering.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Pamlico, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

John Hart. Iron House. New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011.

Michael knows how to kill, possibly better than anyone else alive. He dispatches his victims without emotion or drama, a virtue that makes him nearly invisible in New York City. He is the Old Man’s silent, deadly shadow. But before New York and the Old Man, there was Iron House.

A lifetime ago, he was a small but strong boy who protected his weaker, younger brother Julian at the Iron House Home for Boys in the Smoky Mountains. But one day something horrible happened, and 10-year-old Michael became a fugitive, fleeing into the snowy wilds of a North Carolina winter. He never saw his brother again, and just as he ran from Iron House, Michael also runs from his past. He is content to kill the dishonest and criminal, to be the Old Man’s strong right arm, to leave the boy he once was at Iron Mountain…until he meets Elena.

Carmen Elena Del Portal is more than just a woman; Michael suddenly finds that she is his whole life. When she finds herself pregnant, he knows he has to start over one more time. But the New York underworld won’t give him up so easily. The Old Man may wish for Michael to find a good life with a wonderful woman, but his henchmen are a different story. In no time Michael is on the run again, back to North Carolina and the brother whose existence he tried to protect by denying it. But if he thinks that life is simpler outside the Big Apple, he’s wrong. Dead wrong.

John Hart writes lovely prose, filled with a complicated cast of mobsters, lost boys, corrupt politicians, beautiful but mysterious ladies, and witches. Iron House looms over it all, a stark presence of which Michael, for all his running, may never be free. For an immensely entertaining, complex thriller, try Iron House!

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Chatham, Hart, John, Madison, Mountains, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Lauren Myracle. Shine. New York: Amulet Books, 2011.

Patrick Truman was never afraid, or if he was it never showed. When his classmates called him a pansy or a fairy, when they stole his pants and left him trapped in the bathroom, when they knocked into him or threw the word fag in his face, it never stuck. He cast off their darkness and let his light shine, just like his grandma, Mama Sweetie, told him to. But some people are so infected with hate and anger that such strength, such survival in another is unbearable. A tourist finds Patrick one Sunday morning at the gas station where he works, beaten and left for dead with a nozzle shoved down his throat. He lies in a coma, an object of gossip and fascination to the entire community of Black Creek, his small, conservative mountain town.

Cat Robinson knows she has to get to the bottom of it. Despite their statements to the local paper, the sheriff’s department isn’t doing anything, and many people even whisper that Patrick was asking for it, maybe even deserved it. Though they haven’t spoken in years, Patrick was her best childhood friend, and Cat aches for the distance that grew up between them in high school. She starts asking questions, opening old wounds, and examining herself and her class-divided, embittered town with a critical and unsparing eye. Filled with a fire and bravery she had forgotten, Cat rediscovers herself in the search for her friend’s attacker. She remembers how to shine, even in the face of the intolerant, the mentally destroyed, and the beaten down. Even in the face of her own victimization. Undaunted and unwilling to remain silent any longer, Cat is an excellent example of how we hope our children will learn to respond to hate.

Native daughter Lauren Myracle has written an engrossing tale that acknowledges human nature’s strange capacity for both chilling evil and inestimable grace. While aimed at young adults, older readers will also find that the finely crafted characters, well-written narrative, and overarching themes of friendship, acceptance, and courage make for an excellent read. It is an apt message for our times.

UPDATE July 27th, 2012: Congratulations to Shine for winning the 2012 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult fiction!

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



Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Mountains, Myracle, Lauren

Cleveland Jones. The Firescalds Road to the Sky. Summerville, SC: Holy Fire Publishing, 2009.

The Firescalds Road to the Sky is the life story of a young boy, called simply RC, growing up during the 1950s and ’60s. As a small child, RC lives happily on his family’s farm in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. But when hard times come to the farm, RC’s father EC has to go back to work building ships in Newport News, Virginia. Getting by but unhappy at being separated, the family relies on hard work and their Christian faith, somehow finding a way to survive and be together. RC does his part, too: hauling groceries, mowing lawns, delivering papers, and anything else he can for his mother, sisters, and at times faraway father. He even has a furry, fierce companion for a few years: a spirited Airedale named Bobby. But the evils of the world are constantly at hand, and RC must remind himself to follow what he has been taught in order to stay safe and true to his faith. RC’s story is a successful one: he leads an upright, Christian life, and goes to college all the way in California. In the end, though, he returns to his roots in the Appalachians, where he finds what he has somehow always known: his family farm is the true road to Heaven.

This book promotes a strong Christian view of modern society and history and is filled with direct quotations from the Bible. It offers an inspiring story of a young man who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and found comfort in both the strength of his family and his religion.

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


Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Jackson, Jones, Cleveland, Mountains, Religious/Inspirational

Alice E. Sink. Ain’t No Bears Out Tonight. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2010.

It is the summer of 1951 in the fictional town of Piedmont, North Carolina and nearby Burnett Mill Village. For the fifty-odd years since Piedmont was founded by a band of upright gentleman, it has always appeared to be the very model of a wholesome community. But when Miss Amelia Miller is found murdered in her home, the peaceful citizens are forced to remember uncomfortable secrets they would rather forget. Frannie Cline, the little girl next door, finds her imagination gripped by Miss Amelia’s collection of antiques; in particular, a beautiful silver and opal pinkie ring. Unbeknownst to Frannie, the ring represents a dark time in Miss Amelia’s and Piedmont’s shared history, when social mores possessed greater value than human life.

Sink explores these towns using a large, diverse cast of characters that draws the reader back and forth in time between 1900 and 1951. Filled not only with murder but also racial and social conflict, the book gives the reader a taste of how attitudes began to change in small North Carolina towns in the first half of the 20th century.

Due to descriptions of sexuality and violence, this book is recommended for older teens and adults.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Docufiction, Historical, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Sink, Alice E., Suspense/Thriller

James Boyd. Marching On. New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1927.

James Boyd followed up the success of his Revolutionary War novel, Drums, with this novel, set during the 1860s.

James Fraser, a descendant of the hero of Drums, is the son of a small farmer with land along the Cape Fear River.  Even as he sees that the cards are stacked against small landowners like his family, James falls in love with Stewart Prevost, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner.  Frustrated in love and with his economic prospects, James goes to Wilmington.  Once the Civil War begins, James joins the Confederate army and becomes part of Stonewall Jackson’s army.  He is capture by the Yankees but is freed just as the tide of war turns in the North’s favor.  After making his way back home, he attempts to protect the Prevost plantation. In that he fails, but the war has both changed the Prevost family fortunes and their daughter’s opinion of James.

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

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Filed under 1920-1929, 1927, Boyd, James, Coastal Plain, Historical, New Hanover

Grace Lumpkin. To Make My Bread. New York: Macaulay Co., 1932.

To Make My Bread follows the McClure family during the years 1900-1929.  Initially, they are mountaineers, self-sufficient on their small plot of land.  Most of their neighbors live as they do, except for the Swains, who own the store in their community.  When the family is swindled out of their land by timber speculators, they move to a mill town forty miles away.

Not all family members adjust to the move.  The two younger children, John and Bonnie become the primary breadwinners, and they are radicalized by their experiences. Bonnie also struggles with the conflict between the demands of industrialized work and traditional expectations for women.  She becomes an important figure in the nascent labor movement in the town.

Part family saga, part political novel, To Make My Bread is one of six novels from the 1930s  based on the Gastonia textile strike of 1929.  The book has been the subject of academic study, and it is still in print from the University of Illinois Press.

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

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Filed under 1930-1939, 1932, Gaston, Historical, Lumpkin, Grace, Mountains, Piedmont

L. C. Evans. Jobless Recovery. Coral Springs, FL: Llumina Press, 2005.

Dave Griffin is a young man from the North Carolina mountains. After graduating from NC State, he gets a job with a large conglomerate in a city a lot like Charlotte. He has a house in the suburbs and a girlfriend who knows all the right people.  His life looks good until his company decides to replace their American programmers with cheaper workers from India.  Joe Tremain is a FBI agent who is a let go by the agency after he sustains a disabling head injury.  Both men soon find out that the American safety net doesn’t cover the basics of everyday life.  After a chance meeting with Joe’s daughter, Lark, Dave comes to live with the Tremains.  The two men have an uneasy relationship, even as Joe draws the younger man into his schemes and Dave falls in love with Lark.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Evans, L. C., Piedmont

Michael Malone. Time’s Witness. Boston: Little, Brown, 1989.

Time’s Witness is narrated by Cuddy Mangum, formerly a homocide detective and now the Chief of Police for the Piedmont town of Hillston. By his own admission Cuddy doesn’t have the best thing one can have in Hillston (class), or even the second best thing (looks). What he does have are brains and he makes use of them in this, the second of the Justin and Cuddy mysteries. With a young African-American man’s execution on the horizon, racial tensions rise in the town and things only get worse when the convict’s brother is murdered. Then a candidate for governor becomes involved and starts receiving death threats. Complicating matters is the fact that the politician’s wife is Cuddy’s first–and perhaps only real–love.

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

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Filed under 1980-1989, 1989, Malone, Michael, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Carolyn Rawls Booth. A Chosen Few. Chapel Hill, NC: Chapel Hill Press, 2008.

A Chosen Few is the third in Carolyn Booth’s trilogy of books that recount the struggles of rural, coastal North Carolinians during the 1920s and 1930s. While the plot revolves around the Ryan and McBride families and their relationships, much of the characters’ attention and activities are directed toward the the Penderlea Homestead Farms and other New Deal politics/projects of the Great Depression. The brainchild of Wilmington businessman Hugh MacRae, the Penderlea Homesteads were meant to be part of a cooperative, self-sufficient “farm city” in Pender County that would provide resettlement and relief for bankrupt farmers. The author was born in Bladen County and her family lived on a Penderlea Homestead until 1939; A Chosen Few is loosely based on her family and its experiences.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Bladen, Booth, Carolyn Rawls, Coast, Coastal Plain, Historical, Novels in Series, Onslow, Pender