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Show Me Good Land

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  100 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Set in fictional Fort Angus, Maine, Show Me Good Land tells the story of a small rural town struggling with poverty and decay after decades of prosperity. Loosely linked through a grisly murder, its characters must navigate the ambiguous moral landscape of a waning community. It is a moving, sometimes melancholy, often funny novel about family, community, loss, redemption, ...more
Hardcover, 207 pages
Published April 16th 2011 by Down East Books (first published April 1st 2011)
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Lily Holliday
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I basically read this in one sitting. Show Me Good Land was written by the daughter of an old friend from the small town in Maine where I spent my high school years. The book circles around numerous characters who are all semi-related to one another. Most of the characters are living amidst the ravages of rural poverty, in conflict with those who are not. It was a wrenching experience for me to read about the town I left so many years ago. Total realism. Shonna Milliken Humphrey is spot on in he ...more
Howard Frank
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Maybe there's something about Aroostook County, Maine, that Rhetta Ballou, the 35-year-old heroine of Shonna Milliken Humphrey's wondrous first novel, Show Me Good Land, doesn't understand. If so, however, I can't imagine what it might be. Though she fled "The County" 20 years ago, and currently works as a university research fellow, Rhetta is still, at heart, "just an Aroostook County girl." So when her mother summons her home to attend the bedside of a cousin near death from a methamphetamine- ...more
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Literary, New England
Shelves: just-because
The geography of Maine, the desolation and poverty of life in the north east were described like poetry, sad but true. A few of the characters were fully drawn, interesting and interesting to get to know. But, there were too many of them. Still couldn't put it down. Read it just to understand potato farmers if nothing else and what it likes to survive the cold isolation where everybody knows your name. Great start! Show Me Good Land by Shonna Milliken Humphrey ...more
Diane Burnett
Jul 29, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge
Show Me Good Land tells of life in a small town in Maine. The relationships of the townspeople and the hardships and successes. Sometimes a mystery is solved in accidental methods.
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this book in advance for the Maine Women Write book club at Kennebooks. This book doesn't come up until 2012 but I had already read (or tried to read) the ones that preceded it. It started off sort of strangely, with a man in a prison cell. Not what I was expecting! From the cover of the book I thought it was going to be a story about farming or something, and there were some parts about farming, eventually, but it is really about relationships. This book is set way up north in Maine, in ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This author has immeasurable talent for weaving a story. Coming from a very small family, I find it difficult to keep track of stories that tell of generations of small town families that intermarry. With any other writer, I would have never survived keeping track of all the characters in this book. There were times, when it was hard for me to recall who was related to whom and so forth, and for that reason, I was afraid to put the book down for more than 24 hours, because I dreaded loosing my r ...more
Morgan Callan Rogers
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This first remarkable novel by Maine author Shonna Milliken Humphrey is an important addition to the Maine experience. Show Me Good Land is written by a northern Mainer who understands where she comes from and writes about it with compassion and gritty wit. Milliken Humphrey's writing is amazing in itself - beautiful and bittersweet, stubborn and honest, much like the fictional characters she has created. Maine is a state that, in writing, is often beloved, but described in romantic and less tha ...more
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm not from northern Maine and I never had to take three weeks from school to work in the potato fields, but this story of growing up and out of the place you were raised resonated with me on many levels. The realization that there is MORE, that you can CHOOSE, that you can LEAVE... and that the eventual road home will be littered with the memories you left behind - it's pretty powerful stuff.

I liked the characters in Show Me Good Land, even the less-than-likeable ones. The small town's family
Melissa Acuna
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one sitting--late into the night last night and then waking up early to finish it before work.
The story is set in Aroostock County, Maine, or the County as most of Maine calls it. It's a story of rural American poverty and a part of Maine that most tourists never see and even fewer authors write about.
The characters are engrossing and the author tells the story of meth addiction, class warfare, poverty and families with honesty and compassion and a deep understanding. I fel
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
It was hard deciding how to rate this book. On one hand, it is extremely well-written and the author knows her subject. (Does anyone outside of Maine know what a dooryard is? Details like that were spot on.) On the other hand, though, the characters are all so down-trodden. Everyone either does drugs, gets pregnant young, drops out of school, gets stuck in a minimum wage job, is sent to county lock-up, or all of the above. Yes, towns like this exist in Northern Maine (and every other state), but ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye because I was born (although not raised) in Aroostock County. It is indeed a good read and I would recommend it; however, I believe that, should it be released in paperback, the author include a "town tree" of the families. Many of the characters have unique first names and I found myself distracted, trying to remember which kin that was, its significance, etc. Had there been family trees of the Ft. Angus residents that I could have flipped back to, it would have helped m ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Aroostock County in northern Maine was one of the most affluent regions in the country when pulp and paper were king. Now, though, it's hard times, and the people who live there must necessarily make hard choices. In Shonna Milliken Humphrey's novel we get to know these people in all their courage and weakness as they move with a hardscrabble dignity through the somewhat ragged remnants of that old affluent society. Show Me Good Land is a page-turner, full of grace and humor, that also gives us ...more
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Met this author at the Books in Boothbay event. This is her first novel. Really enjoyed the book. The story takes place in a small town in upstate Maine. The story tracks the lives of several generations living in this small town. It was better than I thought it was going to be. Very well defined characters. Almost too many characters/families to track. But extremely well written. I kept thinking that she reminded me of an author, but can't quite place the author. If you get a chance to read thi ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
I was prepared to dislike this book but found to my surprise that I liked it very much and moreover I also liked the characters.
Colleen Lahey
May 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Author does an excellent job describing the setting of Northern Maine. Plot of the story is weak.
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great novel from a local Maine author, and the wife of one of my dear musician friends.

A really gritty look at Northern Maine, abandoned mill town life.
A Ghandour
Oct 20, 2015 rated it liked it
a sad story about people with no hope for the future or past,
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Meh. Too many undeveloped characters, not engaging enough for me. I hoped the setting of Maine would engage me but not enough to make up for the plot.

Aug 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Maine Women Write
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this. I think it would be an engaging story for anyone, but I grew up in a small town and this book really captures so many aspects of adolescence in a small town.
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