I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, December 5, 2016

Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy

This book is told through the eyes of two people in two different time periods in tobacco country in Kentucky. The first is 1952 and it concerns Annie who is facing her ascension, which is what happens when a girl hits the age of fifteen and a half and becomes a woman. At midnight girls go to the Fulkerson well to look into it and see the face of the man they will marry and soon after they are supposed to receive their first kiss. Later that day there is a party to celebrate the occasion of their ascension.  Annie has been told that Sarah is her mother, but she has figured out a long time ago that she is her Aunt Juna's child. Aunt Juna caused Joseph Carl to be hung in the last public hanging in 1936. Also that Joseph Carl is her father. There is only one Baines left, Mrs. Baines, the boys left and are believed to be dead. Something else laid at Juna's feet. When Annie decides to go to a well she chooses the one on the Baines property, since she has an antagonistic relationship with Ryce Fulkerson, the young man who seems to chase after her, but whose face was seen in the well by another girl and who said he guessed he'd marry her, even though it's been a year and he has yet to kiss the girl.

As Annie heads out, she expects that her father John Holleran will be following her to make sure she's alright, but it turns out he drank too much whiskey with the neighbor Abraham Pace and doesn't wake up to do this. Caroline her beautiful, slightly younger sister does show up with a flashlight. The two climb over the rock wall and look into the well and Caroline who isn't supposed to be looking yet sees a face in the well, but Annie sees nothing and believes that Caroline has stolen her man. While they are arguing Annie notices a body on the ground and they run for home to tell their dad and Abraham. It turns out the dead body is that of Mrs. Baine.

There is one thing that Annie and her Grandma, John's mother, and Juna have in common: the know-how. It comes fully on when a girl reaches her ascension. John's mother knew that Sarah would marry him and they'd have a happy life. She knew Sarah would be a sweet girl child and should be named Sarah. The difference between the Grandma and Annie and Juna is that they have deep black eyes that some say are filled with evil. People can't look them in the eyes and believe that they are up to no good. This was true of Juna.

In 1936 you see it through the eyes of Sarah and Juna scares her father who everyone believes is cursed. His crops are put in late and don't do well. The house was built in the shadows so it is always cold and damp. They have a younger brother Dale, whose birth took their mother's life, is ten years old and helps Sarah around the house while Juna works in the fields. But Dale is starting to look too soft and their Daddy wants him to go out with Juna one day in the fields and Sarah to go pick blackberries. But Juna says it's not a good day for Dale to go into the fields. Her father goes against what she says and later Dale goes missing. Juna won't talk about what happened. She seems like it's too much and she's too worn out to talk about it.  But there is something else afoot. Because Joseph Carl will hang for something here.

Just like Annie cannot get any boy to notice her because of her harsh looks, and all the attention going to her sister Caroline the beautiful one with the curves and the lovely hair, Sarah cannot get anyone to notice her because of Juna's beauty. But both girls have someone who notices them, even though this person is not someone they are interested in. Sarah is pining away after Ellis Baine who  has no idea she exists but is very much aware of Juna. And Annie seems to like Jacob Riddle who only has eyes for Caroline and Ryce Fulkerson who seems too interested in the girl who saw him in the well. Ellis Baine shows up with two of his brothers for his mother's funeral, but Ellis stays to clean up the place in order to sell it and perhaps to find out what really happened back in 1936, which causes problems for Sarah and John, as she thinks she still has feelings for him.

This is one hot summer that is boiling up for something to happen in 1952. In 1936 it is also summer and things there will boil over and scald a county permanently.   This is an excellent book that the author got the idea for from the last public hanging that was held in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1936 for the rape of a girl. Even though he had also murdered her, he was only convicted of the rape so that they would be able to have the hanging be public. Murder convictions were private hangings.  And the person who pulled the lever was a female sheriff, just like in this book. The crime was different in the book, though and she created a whole county from scratch. It was still very realistic and quite a tale.

Grandma would have called it wishful thinking, and she always says nothing causes a person more harm than wishful thinking.
-Lori Roy (Let Me Die In His Footsteps p 45-6)
You like that he knows a thing for certain, Joseph Carl had written. You want someone who knows things, doesn’t hope for things, because hoping is common. Hoping is easy.
-Loir Roy (Let Me Die In His Footsteps p 155)
It’s a disturbing thing to know someone love you. It makes a person wonder why.
-Lori Roy (Let Me Die In His Footsteps p 238)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Let-Me-Die-His-Footsteps/dp/1101984309/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480947408&sr=1-1&keywords=let+me+die+in+his+footsteps+lori+roy

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