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Outbound Train

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  75 reviews
In 1976, memories from a night near the railroad tracks sixteen years earlier haunt Barbara Parker. She wrestles with past demons every night, then wakes to the train’s five-thirty whistle. Exhausted and dreading the day, she keeps her hands busy working in Bryson City’s textile plant, known as the “blue jean plant,” all the while worrying about her teenage daughter, Carol ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published April 1st 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction
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Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  145 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Susan Peterson
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Family, home, determination

This heartfelt story of three generations of women, literally living on the wrong side of the tracks, touched my heart and gave me hope. They live hardscrabble lives, dictated by the factory that employs the people of Bryson City, North Carolina, and a school that separates its students into those they teach, and those they ignore. Carole Ann is a high schooler who dreams of leaving this harsh town, a dream her mother shared but was never able to achieve. Their storie
Jewell Drake
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm waiting for the next one!
I just didn't want it to end....beautifully written and heart-wrenching at moments, but completely identifiable. Completed the book quicker than I have ANY book recently, AND just this morning reread the last chapter 4:30am!
Get your copy as soon as possible! You'll hop on the train of believers quickly!

Janisse Ray
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved Renea Winchester's novel about a matriarchy in rural Appalachia, specifically Bryson City, North Carolina. She has created memorable characters, mostly women, in this beautiful saga about the lasting impacts of poverty and the desire to lift out of it. We are reminded that the circumstances that cause people's dreams to die happen all to easily. Maybe I'm too much of a softie, but I found myself crying a few times here, especially toward the end. This book is not nostalgic. It does not s ...more
T.M. Mike Brown
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed entering Bryson City NC, the old mill town in Appalachian NC. The despair and desperation felt by three generations of women in the story -- Pearlene, Barbara, and Carol Ane -- made the story come to life and reflected the reality of many mill towns experiencing shutdowns during the 70's and 80's throughout America. I loved the in your face advice handed down, "don't trust anything that comes with tires or a tallywacker." Thank you, Renea Winchester. You have a genuine storyteller gift. ...more
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because the reviews were good and it was an inexpensive download. Found it an enjoyable read and would recommend (primarily to women as all main characters are female). Perseverance, strength, family ties and hope all contribute to a rich novel. Also leaves this reader realizing just how fortunate she is in so many ways.
Claire Fullerton
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read the ARC of Outbound Train and recommend this gorgeously written, starkly real Southern set story that will play on your heartstrings all the way through. Author Renea Winchester writes with a clear-sighted, compassionate eye about women in hard times. They are the blue-collar, Parker women, one haunted by her past; the other, her daughter, who plans to escape the poverty of her hometown, Bryson City, at any cost. With twists and turns that seem to come full-circle, Outbound Train is an en ...more
Laura Kemp
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Set in the southern mill town of Bryson City, 'Outbound Train' tells the story of three generations of Parker women. Mother Pearlene, daughter Barbara and granddaughter Carole Anne all live together in the trailer park, and Winchester is unflinching in her portrayal of their hard scrapple life.
There is a dark secret concerning Carole Anne's birth, and Barbara struggles to make ends meet while working in a factory and trying to care for her mother, who has the early signs of Alzheimer's.
I enj
What a charming book and I loved the cover for this book also. This is my first read by this author and boy does she know how to write Southern fiction. The three women in this story might be what most people call "trailer trash" but they are far from the stereotype of what we might lump into that category. These are three generations of strong women who might not have a lot but are rich in life and wisdom. You can't help but love all three of the main characters and cheer them on for any victor ...more
Kathryn Taylor
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mother and daughter Barbara and Carole Anne Parker each have dreams of escaping their small town of Bryson City and finding a better life on an outbound train. Each hold secrets from the other as they struggle to overcome challenges, disappointment, and loss. Outbound Train is a beautifully written story filled with richly developed characters which the reader will hold close to their hearts long after they have finished the book.
Carroll McMahan
Three generations of women living in a hopeless situation somehow find the courage to face each day and strive for something better. Renea Winchester brings her characters to life in this heartfelt tale of people living in poverty that mange to maintain a level of pride. Although dreams of escaping never been realized, their struggles and disappointments never quash their determination. Set in Bryson City, NC where the author grew up, the story will resonate with anyone who has ever lived in a p ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Outbound Train is the moving and uplifting portrait of three generations of working class women and their struggle to survive the brutality of poverty, hopelessness, and oppression. Bryson City, North Carolina in the mid-1970s is a small mountain town governed by railroads, mills, and football. In a culture dominated by men, women like Pearlene, Barbara, and Carole Anne Parker fiercely guard their dreams, and their secrets, and suffer in isolation. It is only when the mill lays off workers and ...more
Mandy Haynes
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Renea Winchester wastes no time in taking you straight into young Barbara Parker's life. Right from the get go, you're invested and you know you're in for ride. When she introduces Carole Ann you already love her - Renea has seen to that.

She set this novel up so the reader isn't sitting on the outside, passing judgment - the reader is there in Bryson City - waking up with the train's whistle to hustle to the factory to start another shift at the sewing machine. Shopping at Piggly Wiggly and wal
James Williams
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
In "Outbound Train", Renea Winchester takes the reader on a journey into a small town, during a simpler time. But don't let that description let you get too complacent: hurtful things happened to innocent people 50 years ago, just as they do today. The wounds went just as deep then as they do now, left the same kind of scars, and required the same kind of care, carried the same hope of redemption, as similar events in modern life (or in bigger cities).
In other words, "Outbound Train" has a part
Linda Ball-Hyder
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good read enjoyed every page.
David Robertson
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful story, it captures you from the opening pages to the end....
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dang. I sure read some good authors. Renea Winchester just got on the list. Thanks for a good read.
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I write a book review, I don't like to summarize it again. That is done in the book blurb, so I would rather spend my time describing my thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the story. The beginning of this book is hard to read, and if I had not been warned about it beforehand, I may have quit reading. I am so glad I didn't. The consequences of this one circumstances described in the opening pages are what drives the rest of the book. The seemingly hopelessness of the characters is heartbre ...more
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
The beginning of Outbound Train by Renea Winchester is a scene a reader won't made me think of John Grisham's A Time to Kill. It was so ghastly, and I wasn't expecting it at all. But sometimes good comes from evil, and that kept me on the journey.

Barbara and Carole Anne Parker are strong protagonists in this story. Barbara had dreams of leaving her small town but after an event when she was in high school, her life changed forever. Carole Ann, Barbara's daughter, also wants to leave
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Behind the thin walls of an old house trailer with peeling linoleum and faulty plumbing, three generations of Parker women try desperately to keep secrets from one another in effort to spare each other from painful realities. Each one seeks their own method of escape from circumstances they feel are beyond their control, circumstances that threaten to destroy their very will to live.

Like so many women the world over, these women discover a common bond by reaching deep and finding the courage a
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2021
1976 Bryson City, North Carolina

I discovered this author and novel through Selah Award nominees. Outbound Train is a nominee for the General Fiction category.

The characters and language pulled me in and didn't let go. Trigger warning: there is a flashback to 1960 and the rape of a teenager in one of the first chapters.

Outbound Train is about what life is like for three generations of women struggling to get by or "make do" as is quoted in the novel. Granny Pearlene is in the early stages of deme
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
OUTBOUND TRAIN, an Appalachian novel published in 2020 by Firefly Southern Fiction, revolves around author Renea Winchester’s home town of Bryson City, North Carolina. Set in the 1970’s, the story is told from the points of view of three generations of impoverished women who struggle to survive in their small textile community. While the outbound train constantly reminds the teenager of a better world outside her trailer park, it also serves to haunt the mother as she deals with the demons of he ...more
Betty Koval
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Renee Winchester has taken a subject I was familiar with - small rural home town and given life to a personal dream of mine - leave to see and have experiences outside the boundaries of my home town. It appears mine was not the only small town where everyone seems to know or ”think” they know what everyone else in town is doing. Carol Ann just wants to make enough money to leave and become more than a seamstress at the local factory. Most of all she wants to get out of the trailer park located r ...more
Jamie Wyatt
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Must Read

It took me a while to process what I want to say about Renea Winchester's Outbound Train, because I KNOW her characters. My mother's people are from a couple of counties south, just over the Georgia line. They may not have been rich in money, but they were rich in life and wisdom. So are Renea's characters. Outbound Train also reminded me of my small Southern hometown in Florida. Experiences of growing up with class and cultural divides are universal, whichever side you're on, whereve
Barbara Dover
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There is so much truth in this work of fiction. Small town Appalachia in the 1970’s was exactly as Renea Winchester describes it in Outbound Train, and it hasn’t changed much since except for the tourism and influx of second homes. Barbara, Granny Pearlene, and Carole Anne are three strong women who are forced to “make do” with their circumstances, yet are always hopeful when it seems that hope has dried up and blown away. Working in a textile factory with good honest people, clipping coupons, a ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Right out of the gate Renea Winchester story about the life of Barbara Parker is off and running. It is truly an inspirational story of three generations of women trying to keep their family together in a hard world with few economic choices. Barbara is trying her best to make a good life for her daughter Carole Anne. Carole Anne just like her mother is trying to break the chains of too few choices in this North Carolina town where a job at the textile mill was the best most could hope for
I rea
Rona Simmons
In 1964, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously described what constituted “hard-core pornography by saying, “I know it when I see it.” And now to lay to rest the more recent argument as to what constitutes southern literature, we have Renea Winchester’s Outbound Train. Delightfully full of coupon clipping, mill workers, polyester suits, trailer parks, and women with long-buried secrets and hearts of gold, of course! You had to ask?

"My grandmother had raised me to keep secrets locked up t
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just finished another wonderful book by Renea Winchester. I was up half the night for 2 nights because I literally couldn't put this novel down. This is a beautiful story of the resilience, tenacity, heartache and struggle that women face to find their path in this world. You will find yourself identifying with the mother who struggles with the demons of her past, her daughter longing to break free, and the grandmother who is quirky, a bit crazy, and a true character. I won't ruin the read with ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It makes me nervous to write anything about Outbound Train, by Renea Winchester because I'm afraid I will give away to much information. This is a debut novel that is authentic in its Southern roots and evokes those emotions that we all love in a novel. Three generations of North Carolina mountain women who don't always have it easy, but never give up. There were so many powerful statements in this novel, many of which are said in such a way that one does not have a sense of judgement but one of ...more
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A reader knows from the first sentence and what a hook. Outbound Train delivers in spades! Beautifully written with strong, gutsy, gritty and heartfelt characters. I felt like I knew these women, that I grew up knowing their struggles, their stories and the town that raised them. You will know these women! You’ll recognize their can-do, get the job done spirit. If you want to be inspired by the Parker women (with laughter and tears), this is true blue North Carolina mountain storytelling at its ...more
Chad Killebrew
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Renea Winchester pens a moving story about perseverance and strength in the face of difficult odds in a small Appalachian town. Readers will find themselves captivated by the stories of three generations of the Parker women. Younger readers will identify with the aspirations of teenaged Carole Anne, while others will find commonality with her mother, Barbara, a woman who must overcame a horrific teenage trauma, an aging parent with memory issues, and job challenges — a very relevant topic today. ...more
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Renea Winchester grew up in Bryson City, North Carolina. A small town once known for the production of textile products. She is the Award-winning author of: Outbound Train (Firefly Southern Fiction, April 2020);Farming, Friends, &Fried Bologna Sandwiches (Mercer University Press);
In The Garden With Billy: Lessons about Life, Love & Tomatoes (Little Creek Books). Her work has appeared in Appalachia

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