Where All Light Tends to Go, by David Joy*****

WhereAllLightTends“Dead men tell no tales, Jacob. The ones left to living are the ones who write the history.”

I received my DRC courtesy of Net Galley and Putnam Penguin publishers in exchange for an honest review. This title is available for purchase.

Jacob McNeely is a teenager in Cashier, North Carolina, a tiny  town deep in the crags and hollows of the Appalachian Mountains. His mother is a crank user recently released against his father’s wishes from a psychiatric hospital. Jacob has always wished she might turn into a real mother, but it isn’t going to happen.

His father is the local drug czar, with cops on his payroll and a wide variety of other employees as well. He uses McNeely’s Auto Garage to launder his drug money. If any clueless tourist should come by, he gives them a quote so outrageous they take their business elsewhere. Locals foolish enough to cross him or get in his way find themselves and their vehicles in a deep, watery grave yard. That’s if the abused, underfed Walker coonhounds that are tied up at intervals throughout his property don’t kill them first.

Jacob walks a careful tight rope just in order to stay alive. He doesn’t like the life he leads, but he doesn’t see a way out. That is, unless he can run away with Maggie, the girl he has loved since childhood. Maggie is cut out for greater things; Maggie should go to college and escape the danger and poverty of Cashier.

If only Jake could go with her.

Joy is a gifted writer. His stark prose is chilling yet poignant, and so arresting that the reader will be hard pressed to set it down once it’s begun. But you may think twice about reading it at bedtime.

Where does all light tend to go? The allegory is heavy but sophisticated. Perhaps all light goes toward heaven, the candle that reminds us of the existence of God.

Or it’s possible that all light just goes out.

Searing, wrenching, and deeply affecting, this is a book to remember long after you’ve forgotten everything else you’ve read. Highly recommended to adults. Definitely not for children or adolescents.

Simply brilliant!


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