The World Made Straight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The World Made Straight

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  925 ratings  ·  126 reviews
In an Appalachian community haunted by the legacy of a Civil War massacre, a rebellious young man struggles to escape the violence that would bind him to the past

Travis Shelton is seventeen the summer he wanders onto a neighbor’s property in the woods, discovers a crop of marijuana large enough to make him some serious money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap. After...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,645)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Bob Redmond
Rash's novel tells the story of a wayward kid in North Carolina trying to get on his feet. The kid flirts with drugs, alcohol, crime, girls, guns, and has family troubles to boot. He is helped by an older guy who has troubles of his own. The whole saga is set against a backdrop of Civil War history, with some asides on the nature of violence courtesy Simone Weil.

The book reads like a tame "after school special." The characters, let alone the dialogue, are barely believable, and Rash's writing se...more
It had been awhile since I dipped into my Ron Rash collection and am so glad I did. Rash writes about the Southern rural poor with language that brings to life not only the gritty underside of day-to-day life but also the beauty of the country, while weaving in a good bit of Southern history.

This 2006 book could be described in a variety of ways. With respect to 17 year old Travis, it is a coming of age story. With respect to mid-30's Leonard, it is a coming to terms story. Both come at huge co...more
I love reading the works of poets turned to novelists, and this one doesn't disappoint. The imagery and Appalachian landscape are wrought thoughtfully and are deeply felt. The story itself is tragic. Through the POV of a young man still defining his own life, we glimpse laterally the life of a man who has allowed circumstances to direct his fate, and not until his final moment does he choose his own action. It saves the life of our POV, but it ends his. He is a hero, but tragically, his heroism...more
Another riveting work by my new favorite Appalachian writer - Ron Rash. As I read 'The World Made Straight,' I kept thinking that this story would make a great movie. Lo and behold, I just found out today that not only is this novel being made into a film, but so is 'Serena,' which will co-star none other than "Katniss" herself, Jennifer Lawrence! (Brad Cooper will play Pemberton, which I think is all wrong - he's not burly enough - but, I digress.) And, to get back to 'The World Made Straight,'...more
I wasn't so sure I was going to like this one. The subject didn't really draw me. THEN, I started reading and enjoyed it very much. This is another book by the author I have been reading for the last few weeks. I have one more to go.

The story takes place in the present set in the backwoods of North Carolina near the border of Tennessee.
Ron Rash knows his people and the struggles that go on in mountain cultures.

The young teen in the book has had a hard life on a tobacco farm and sees a way to m...more
Robert B
When we were teens in Atlanta, my brother was a wayward hellraiser with a head full of ideas. Even though we were modern kids, the shadows of the Civil War still touched us in various enigmatic ways. He and I agree that very few artists have captured that essence, but he said Ron Rash nailed some of it in World Made Straight. He also said Rash created a character that reminded him of his teen self. So I was eager to check it out. My brother sent it to me.

It's a lovely, unusual book, told in a co...more
This is a good coming-of-age book with local flavor for me, since it takes place in the North Carolina mountains not far from my home in Chattanooga. Woven into the narrative are some facts about the Civil War, which is another interest of mine.

The central character, Travis Shelton, comes to terms with the grim realities of his own life, with the extra dimension of historical influences he discovers with the help of an unlkely mentor, disgraced teacher Leonard Shuler, now dealing drugs from a d...more
Perhaps not as good as some of his other books, but an enjoyable story nevertheless, and Rash is rapidly climbing up in the ranks of my favorite authors. I like his pace and voice, and the fact that he describes a world I am more familiar with than many books I read. All of the characters are deeply flawed, kind of like the people who inhabited the area and fought a vicious civil war within the Civil War in the Appalachians. The characters are not one dimensional though and have some depth. With...more
Barksdale Penick
I found this to be a very well told tale, with quite a number of really interesting and well developed characters. There is a parallel set of sequences set in the same region of North Carolina during the Civil War; I did not find these to be well integrated into the plot, and in fact found the author's links between the old and new somewhat contrived. But I really enjoyed the Civil War scenes on thier own. Meanwhile the main tale is quite believable in its depiction of humans as as mix of good a...more
I wouldn't recommend this one to a new Ron Rash reader. I really liked it because of the setting and the setting being so close to my parents home in the mountains. It also took place at the time that we first moved there. It is scary to think such things went on but they really probably did. Did I say scary? Yes..Ron does such a good job describing the events that at times I got queasy. It is a dark book about what appear to be hopeless circumstances. I am glad I read it but for those reasons I...more
Mark Andrews
The bad guys a bit one-dimensional, but other characters showing more complexity and there was actually some redemptive stuff in here. Rash's books are very readable if you can stand the death and mayhem that seem inevitable in his writing.
I didn't intend to read as much of this as I have today--it's that absorbing. So far, about a quarter of the way in, this is a fine poetically charged book I'd recommend to anyone who likes reading the true stuff about Appalachia.
Jane Brant
Painfully, and with life-altering consequences, a young man learns what fooling around with the underworld culture of drug dealing can do. Unfortunately, too many are "made straight" with painful reminders of what mistakes they made Ron Rash has the literary ability to draw you in, take you there, and never let you truly come back....his works have that kind of impact on the reader. While I didn't give this novel a full five stars I think it is a must to convince you his body of work should be r...more
pg 13-- Plott hounds (NC state dog) hunting dogs

pgs 142--143 Travis reviewing power of words. especially criticism and doubts. "What can be spoken is already dead in the heart." Leonard had quoted some philosopher --
(Friedrich Nietzsche German classical Scholar, Philosopher and Critic of culture, 1844-1900. “That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.”) reviewing his relationship with his father--

pg 200 Leonard...more
Nick Schrader
Many different personalities collide, in an intense drama filled book. The main character, Travis Shelton struggles to figure out who he actually is. He fights threw many different struggles including often criticism from his father. He also has the help of a former teacher, who has been framed at his last school and now lives in a trailer, Leonard Shuler.
Travis, a 17 year old dropout struggles to earn money and more importantly to get respect form his father. Each day Travis goes out hunting...more
Mrs. Foley
I've been meaning to read this for quite awhile as teachers and students check it out often. It is a very good book...interesting sort of coming-of-age story. Plus I love the cover! (I know...don't judge a book by its cover!)

Review from Booklist:
High-schooler Travis Shelton steals one too many marijuana plants from vicious tobacco-farmer-turned-drug-dealer Carlton Toomey and ends up caught in a bear trap, his foot so mangled he needs surgery. Travis' stern father kicks him out, and he ends up bu...more
While this is not my favorite Ron Rash novel, it is another good one. I love his poetic style and the southern backgrounds of his novels. This one was a bit harder for me to relate to taking place in Western North Carolina in the 1970s, focusing on the drug culture of the area at that time. However, the characters Rash creates are once again understandable and relatable. Rash does a great job of creating characters with depth and personality. He did a great job here with the teenage mindset. I a...more
Patrick Faller
Poet and short-story writer Rash finds his novelistic footing in his third, combining elements of crime fiction with familiar but no less compelling coming-of-age narrative arc to tell the story of Travis Shelton, a young man who strikes up a relationship with a disgraced history professor turned pot dealer after wrong-footing a local kingpin. Rash shows his ability to write beautifully about both the natural world and American history, balancing readers' sympathies between young Travis Shelton...more
more drug dealing Appalachian/mid USA dwellers, but not quite so nasty as others I've read (Crimes in Southern Indiana, Winter's Bone etc).
Even the 'villain' Carlton Toomey (you can tell a lot by the names) is as layered as most of the characters here. He's vicious, knife wielding, ruthless but also sings like Johnny Cash, is clever and perceptive and understands, even empathises with his victims. Each character is a type: the drugged up girl (Dana) passed around, heart of gold? - check; the te...more
Ron Rash possède réellement son univers propre. Après son formidable livre » un pied au paradis », le voici qui emmène, à nouveau, la lectrice dans son Amérique en traitant de la question des origines et de l’identité. Le roman se déroule au pied de Divide Mountain dans les Appalaches. L’auteur plante son décor, à chaque chapître, en faisant constamment référence à la nature: la beauté des truites mouchetées, les rhododendrons, le vacarme des grillons et des cigales, le chant des oiseaux, les cr...more
Neil White
This is an enjoyable and well-written book, there's no denying that. Rash takes what might be an times mundane coming of age/redemption story and livens it up with great local color and competent prose.

Unfortunately this book is kind of like a hill among the mountains of southern literature. It's good, but in some ways it's trying to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Faulkner, and even his contemporaries like Daniel Woodrell, and that's an unfair comparison. This is a good, but not great w...more
Jennifer Cooper
Really good, and not at all what I was expecting. Rash's description of small Appalachian communities can be pretty dark and grim, but it's also dead-on accurate.

Travis Shelton, a high school dropout living in Madison County, North Carolina, finds a field of marijuana while he is looking for a new fishing hole. He steals a few plants to sell to a small-time drug dealer for extra money. When he returns for more, his foot is mangled in a bear trap that was left out by the growers, the vicious Too...more
Brad Ehlers
The World Made Straight
by Ron Rash
Travis Shelton high school drop out in the mountains of North Carolina tries to make a little bit of money by selling stolen Marijuana. He gets caught in a bear trap and was spared by the people he stole from. He moved out of his parents;now living with Leonard who use to be teacher who was framed along time ago. During his stay Leonard helps Travis get a his GED and turn his life around.Travis also learns about his ancestors and the darkness during the Civil Wa...more
Larry Hoffer
Although he doesn't seem to write super-happy books, Ron Rash is a fantastic writer. And this book was another great one of his. Bleak and a bit depressing, yes, but fantastically well-written. I had read the first chapter of the book when it was a short story in a Best American Short Stories collection a few years back, and I remember the story itself haunted me for a while.

Travis is a high-school dropout and farm kid, aimlessly looking for some way to escape what he sees as his dead-end life....more
This is Ron Rash's third novel (2006, after Saints at the River) and it's a great read. I heard an interview with the author on public radio a couple of weeks ago, discussing his new book of short stories, Nothing Gold Can Stay, so I got this book from the library the next day. Rash is a North Carolina writer who has enormous empathy and understanding of mountain people today. His descriptions of the natural world are beautifully rendered, and he weaves an intriguing story of a Civil War doctor...more
So, so good. Since starting my Poem of the Day project, Ron Rash is one of the favorites that I've found (try "The Ascent"). His work here is just as concise and atmospheric as his poetry. He tells the story of a 17-year-old kid named Travis and his friendship with a small-time-small-town drug dealer who introduces Travis to his family's past, which is the Shelton Laurel Massacre. Recommended to all of you, actually, for a bunch of different reasons, but mainly because I think you'll all like th...more
I just met this author at NCCAT. He is a professor at Western Carolina, a down-to-earth guy, and he had a lot of interesting things to say about the writing process. He also said reading teaches empathy, which is SO true! He is from Boling Springs, so if you live in NC, you probably know someone who reminds you of every character in this book. Travis, a 17-year-old dropout finds pot plants on someone else's land and sells them to a drug dealer who used to be a high school teacher but was dismiss...more
Elizabeth K.
May 03, 2010 Elizabeth K. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Nancy
Shelves: 2010-new-reads
I liked the writing here a lot, although I will confess that it incorporates aspects of one of my Not Favorite plots, the non-traditional education. I'm not really sure why I dislike it so much, it always makes me think "oh boo hoo, the 'system' totally under-appreciated you and now you have to go be some maverick unconventional teacher." I find Dead Poet's Society creepy, for example.

HOWEVER, most of the rest of it was fine and dandy, I'm always a sucker for a good Appalachia book, and it also...more
This wasn't as good as One foot In Eden. I would probably give it a 3 1/2, but it is a good read. He is such a good writer that I miss reading his books when I finish them. This one takes place in the seventy's in an Appalachian community whose ancestors were involved in a Civil War clash. The 17 year old main character is trying to see a future for himself while putting up with an abusive father, drug dealers,old friends trying to keep him in their midst and a girlfriend trying to break them bo...more
Jul 07, 2008 Sharon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who like suspense with a literary flair

High school drop-out Travis Shelton stumbles across a neighbor's cash crop and makes a hasty decision to cut a few plants for profit. Not just once--or twice--mind you, but three times. The owners, however, aren't inclined to share, so Travis finds himself trapped (literally and figuratively). Rash weaves together contemporary story, a strong sense of place, and Civil War history in this coming-of-age novel. In spite of the dumb choices Travis makes, you'll find yourself rooting for him, and hop...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 54 55 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2 books in one 1 13 Dec 23, 2008 04:22PM  
  • The Floor of the Sky
  • Color of the Sea
  • Eagle Blue: A Team, a Tribe, and a High School Basketball Season in Arctic Alaska
  • My Old True Love
  • Cataloochee
  • Hell at the Breech
  • Black Mountain Breakdown
  • Moon Women
  • Woe to Live On
  • Gabriel's Story
  • Signs in the Blood (An Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mystery #1)
  • The Coal Tattoo
  • My Jim
  • Over and Under
  • The Night Birds
  • Strange as This Weather Has Been
  • She-Rain:  A Story of Hope
  • River of Earth
Ron Rash is the author of the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Finalist and New York Times bestselling novel, Serena, in addition to three other prizewinning novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and four collections of stories, among them Burning Bright, which won the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and Chemistry and Other St...more
More about Ron Rash...
Serena The Cove One Foot in Eden Saints at the River Burning Bright: Stories

Share This Book

“Force is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the second it crushes, the first it intoxicates. Those who use it and those who endure it are turned to stone… a soul which has entered the province of force will not escape this except by a miracle.” 0 likes
More quotes…