Bloodroot
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Bloodroot

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3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  5,331 ratings  ·  1,200 reviews
Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.

The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of seamlessly woven voices and centers around an incendiary...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published January 12th 2010 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2010)
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Best Books Set in Appalachia
19th out of 331 books — 496 voters
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Community Reviews

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karen
this was recommended to me in the RA group when i was whining about wanting more books like winter's bone and dogs of god and gritty appalachia stuff like that.

this is not as dark as either of those books, the stakes of survival are lower, but it is still a book i would recommend. as a readalike, it seems closer to Garden Spells, which i have not read, but have been assured is a contemporary magical realism masterpiece. there are definitely things that happen to characters in this novel that i...more
Janelle
I can only think to classify this as a story-tellin' fictional read. There isn't a whole lot of dialogue but there is a whole lot of storytelling from six different perspectives. You can't call it a novel, you can't call it fantasy, certainly not chick-lit or magical. It's downright good story tellin'!

It's a telling of people involved in the life of Myra Mayes-Odum. A wild and spirited mountain girl of the Appalachia region. We read about Myra from the perspective of a child hood friend who love...more
Jeanette
Very nearly five stars. This is a slightly less gritty variation on the traditional Southern novel. It follows four generations of women in a Tennessee family. They are supposedly cursed because one of them was born with "haint blue" eyes, but the real curse is poverty and ignorance. Limited opportunities for girls in the rural South made them throw away their lives on the first boy who paid them any attention. There are Southern traditions and superstitions aplenty here, mostly of dubious origi...more
Sarah
Wow. After the slightly mixed reviews from Goodreads and the kind of cheesy, vague (and somewhat misleading, I think) description on the front flap, I was expecting this to be a decent, folksy read. But I just finished it and I can't stop thinking about it.

There's something haunting about the book. My heart just broke for all the characters. The writing was breathtakingly beautiful and the author even managed to weave in the accents and local ways of speaking without sounding contrived or making...more
Djrmel
This book brought an interesting question to my mind: Do you blame bland story telling on the writer or the character when the book is told in first person? Okay, so I only entertained the question as a way of explaining how the first part of this three sectioned book could be so engaging, so vivid, and the rest of the book almost mind numbing, even with a plot straight out of my favorite genre, Southern Gothic. Yes, it is the author's fault if four of her six characters almost ruin a great tale...more
Chrissie
ETA: There is another theme central to this book – love. Love has violence imbedded in it. Love tears us apart. Each chapter is told from one character’s viewpoint. I gave this book three stars, yet it continues to occupy my thoughts.

**********************

I enjoyed this book for its ability to put me in in a place where I had never been before. It drew a picture of the South (Tennessee) during the 70s in a remote country town and in mountain-side communities. Superstition, belief in spirits and...more
Natalie
There are parts of this book that are amazing. Greene's talent and ability are undeniable. There are some lines that are just stunning. I don't have a problem with the sequence or the multiple voices as other reviews do, and agree that this book is similar in structure (and sometimes voice) to those by Lee Smith. I was particularly reminded of Oral History.

My problems are two fold. First, while I like how certain "minor" story lines from individual sections came back again in later sections, I'm...more
Greg Zimmerman
Don't be surprised if you see Amy Greene's Bloodroot make its way onto several of the literary prize short lists later this year. It's that good; a wonderfully engrossing story by a debut novelist who writes with amazing clarity, emotion, authenticity and beauty.

Bloodroot is a plant that has the power both to cure or kill; it's the central symbol throughout a novel rich with dichotomy (love and hate, life and death). Bloodroot is also the name of the mountain in dirt-poor East Tennessee where th...more
Cynthia
In her debut novel set in East Tennessee Greene tells the story of an isolated mountain family who through many generations have gifts of healing, seeing into people’s hearts, soothing animals. At the center of the story is Myra, her grandmother and Myra’s boy and girl twins. After Myra’s grandfather dies she and her grandmother live on their mountain through their own wits and hard work and help from a few neighbors.

Then Myra falls almost fatally in love with Johnny and he with her but their lo...more
Sandra
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Colleen
I am very surprised that this book has an average rating of 3.89; apparently I am in the minority on my feelings about this book. I thought it was so boring. There was very little that actually happened in this book and other than Byrdie, none of the characters were really that likeable. I also didn’t care for the author’s use of the Appalachian vernacular (it didn’t bother me in The Help when the author wrote “black” but for some reason it bugged me in this book). There were so many questions t...more
Sarah
Wow. Really...wow.

A dark and twisted fate of generations entangled together through a mountain that is enticing, yet incredibly haunting. Amy Greene had me so wrapped up in this magical and beautiful world of family legends and folklore that I was brought to tears (on the subway) when I realized it was going to fall to pieces.

You weave in and out of past/present, magic/madness, hate/love, safety/danger. Within this back and forth construction, the utterly depressing present day reality for two...more
Pamela
I was afraid Bloodroot would sentimentalize Appalachia for the refined reading palate, but Amy Greene does not (often) slip into this false romance. Don't let the jacket fool you—Bloodroot is vicious, and by the second half of the novel, I had to remind myself to breathe while reading. The Dorothy Allison comparisons, by the way, are perfectly apt.
Suzanne Moore
The setting of the Appalachia Mountains is what drew me to this book. My family is from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and I spent most of my adult years in Tennessee. Amy Greene describes the scenery with flawless detail.
From the days of the depression to present time, Greene’s characters endure many hardships. Myra is the central character whose past connects to her children’s future. The family seems to have been cursed, and Bertie, Myra’s grandmother, believes it may be related...more
Melissa
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lauren
What a beautiful, transporting book. I lost track of subway stops today which is always the mark of an excellent book.

Whenever a book is set in the South, I get anxious about the depiction of Southerners and I was a bit leery at first. Nevertheless, Greene is a remarkable storyteller and thanks to her terrific narration, her characters come to life in a rich, yet nuanced manner. I felt she had just the right touch, revealing in pieces and always leaving you aching for more. Like another reviewer...more
Gina
This novel made me feel. I don't know what else to say or how to describe it. I felt the characters' love, fear, desperation, and dirt. This was probably the most moving story I have read in quite awhile. It is the story of a family from Bloodroot Mountain in Tennessee. It begins with Granny's story of where she came from in Chickweed Holler, her marriage, and the birth and death of her daughter Clio. We learn of Clio's daughter, Myra, and her twin's Laura and John and how their lives intertwine...more
Sara
Bloodroot is a striking piece of contrast. Somehow, it manages to be dangerously dark and refreshingly light at the same time. It is a beautiful display of learning to both overcome and embrace your history. There were pages that I couldn't wait to turn...and others that I could barely bring myself to turn. I love this book.
Donna
Sorry I have to disagree with most of the reviews I read on this book. I just didn't hit the mark for me. I didn't understand any concept of family curses or magical notations at all in this book. I found I was interested in reading this book based on that. That said, it was nothing like that at all and I was disappointed. Tho it was a good story concept and well written I think readers would like reading it if it had been presented as just a story of a lot of superstitious dysfunctional people....more
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Despite the fact that the cover of Amy Greene’s debut novel, Bloodroot, is a dreamy, pastoral image, the story this book tells is dark, brooding, and at times, forbidding. Set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, Greene shows us a side of Appalachia that many readers would rather forget – a side beset by poverty so pervasive that it begets violence, a violence that spills over from one generation into the next.

Spanning three generations, Bloodroot centers around the high spirited, blue-eyed, bla...more
Nikki
I wish it was possible to give fractions of stars.

There were things I liked about this book. At times, Amy Greene offered up a pretty turn of phrase; the dialogue is familiar to me, as a) I live in North Carolina and b) I have family in Tennessee, very close to where the story is set. I liked the descriptions of Bloodroot Mountain--in my mind, I pictured the mountains near where my dad grew up in northeast Tennessee--wild and dappled with sunlight and beautiful.

That said, I was not in love with...more
Heather
Bloodroot is spellbinding. I loved it. The different narrators didn't bother me; in fact, I enjoyed reading the various viewpoints. That's saying something, because sometimes that sort of thing does bother me. I thought it was really interesting how the character of Myra, who seems so compelling and magnetic (almost magical) when described by the other characters, seems so ordinary when we read her section. I recall one character saying “She’s made out of flesh and blood, just like anybody else....more
Jed
Mar 08, 2010 Jed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bingham, McArthur, Lisa (maybe). Not Stef or Jayne
Recommended to Jed by: the critics
I was up until 5am finishing this book today. I'm not sure whether I couldn't sleep, allowing me the time to read, or whether the book kept me awake, allowing me to finish it. Either way, I'm not looking forward to the coming week without it.

The quote on the dust jacket says something about this book having all the critic 'savors in fiction.' I couldn't agree more. This fits nicely into my own particular palette: rural, lyrical, family drama with a heaping portion of gut-binding anguish and a ha...more
Sharon
This story will stay with me forever because Amy Greene has made her characters so vivid and real that they are inforgettable. The rural setting in her native Appalachian mountains is so far away from the world that most of us are familiar with that the story she tells is riveting, albeit heart-wrenching. Something I read that Amy said in an interview was, "Living in Appalachia feels like being quarantined from mass culture in a way." That is exactly how I felt while reading her book. The story...more
Amy
I may well have found my favorite book of 2010 ... or at least one of my top 5! I love, love, love this book!

First, let's do a quick overview of the book (from Goodreads) -

Named for a flower whose blood-red sap possesses the power both to heal and poison, Bloodroot is a stunning fiction debut about the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations, from the Great Depression to today.

The novel is told in a kaleidoscope of seamles
...more
Emily
Amy is an author from my hometown of Morristown, TN. Her book's already getting a lot of good press! I had the pleasure of meeting her at her first reading at Walters State. My friend won an ARC and I borrowed it from her.

I grew up in Morristown, TN, which sounds an awful lot like Millertown, one of the settings in this book. So as I was entered this beautifully crafted novel, I felt like I was returning home again myself. The lives of the characters are not easy, and sometimes their story is ha...more
Amy
“It doesn’t take as much to poison a horse as people think.”

“I might have won her respect. Or maybe she smells my acceptance of the truth that she’s tried to tell me all along. Some creatures are just meant to be left alone. They can’t be held on to, even if we love them more than anything.”



It is sentences like these that reach out and grab you , pulling you into this book, a stunning new novel by Amy Greene. The book is an epic story of several generations living near Bloodroot Mountain. It’s n...more
Kathy
Four stories in one... overlapping... tragic... tied to the mountain and its Bloodroot flower... of life...ends on a positive note.

Depression - Byrdie - loves and is loved, has children - all of whom die - 2 as adults, and they are disappointments.

Clio - Byrdie's daughter - self centered & wild, loves poorly, dies early, leaves her daughter.

Myra - Clio's daughter - wild - but in the sense of nature wild, not being able to be hemmed in... loves the mountain... loves a man unwisely, is abused...more
Michele
I really wanted to like this one but after 2 weeks of muddling through it, trying to keep up with the multiple characters and their narrative, struggling to remember who is who and why they are important to the story, I'm giving up. When it gets to the point that I'm dreading picking up my current read, it's time to move on. I honestly don't think I have ever abandoned a book this far into it (about 2/3), but I simply can't spend any more time on this. There are too many other great novels out t...more
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I like this book 2 30 Aug 07, 2013 09:48AM  
Southern Lit Lovers: Bloodroot by Amy Greene - March 2012 group read (*Spoilers Likely*) 36 58 Apr 26, 2012 09:55AM  
Around the United...: Bloodroot by Amy Greene 1 5 Oct 27, 2011 01:55PM  
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Amy Greene's debut novel, BLOODROOT, was a national bestseller. Her second novel, LONG MAN, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf on February 25, 2014.
More about Amy Greene...
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“It's not forgetting that heals. It's remembering.” 99 likes
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