Karen's Reviews > She Walks These Hills

She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb
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Dec 22, 11

bookshelves: appalachian, folklore-fairytale-legend, sociology, southern-us, mystery
Read from July 29 to 30, 2011

I love books with strong plots, and the architecture of McCrumb's novel has an admirable set of relationships between past and present. The foundation of her novel is based on the legend of Katie Wyler, an 18th century settler, captured and held by the Shawnee until she escaped and walked miles and miles home (roughly from Morgantown to Ashville)in hopes of reconnecting with her people. McCrumb juxtaposes this tale with several characters who live in Appalachia in the late 20th Century. Each contemporary tale expands and elevates the themes of the legend, showing how people today "walk these hills," still struggling with many of the same hardships and sorrows as Katie.

McCrumb uses research and her insider's knowledge of Appalachia to create a novel that conveys some of the complexities of this region's landscape and heritage. She imbeds these facts within a compelling mystery--actually five mysteries: one about Katie, one about Harm, one about Rita, one about Martha, and one about Sabrina. By the end of the novel, McCrumb reveals startling secrets about each of these five characters, each secret making sense within the subsequent attitudes and behaviors in their own lives but also showing connecting themes with several others' lives--and with the landscape as well. On the surface, this book looks like pulp fiction, but if you look closely at this book, like cabin in the holler, it's adorned with remarkable craftmanship.
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