On a bone-chilling New Year's Day, when all the mountain roads are slick with ice, Clay's mother, Anneth, insists on leaving her husband. She packs her things, and with three-year-old Clay in tow, they inch their way toward her hometown along the treacherous mountain roads.
That journey ends in the death of Clay's mother. It's a day that comes to haunt her only son, who's left without a family and a history. This is the story of how Clay Sizemore, a coal miner in love with his town but unsure of his place within it, finds a family to call his own.
And it's the story of the people who become part of the life he shapes: Aunt Easter, always filled with a sense of foreboding and bound to her faith above all; Uncle Paul, quietly producing quilt after quilt; Dreama, beautiful and flighty; Evangeline, the untameable daughter of a famous gospel singer; and Alma, the fiddler whose song wends its way into Clay's heart. Together, they all help Clay to fashion a quilt of a life from what treasured pieces are around him.
Authentic and moving, Clay's Quilt is both the story of a young man's journey and of Appalachian people struggling to hold on to their heritage.
A deep love for home suffuses this heartfelt, well-crafted debut novel set in the Kentucky hills. Clay Sizemore, a young coal miner from a big family and a small town, never doubts that he will live out his life in the place where he was born. His mother, Anneth, was killed when he was only four, and he never knew his father, but he is surrounded by the people he loves: his big-hearted, God-fearing Aunt Easter; Dreama, the beautiful cousin he loves like a sister; and Cake, his party boy best friend. Clay and Cake work hard, and play hard at the local honky-tonk, but both want more from life than work, drink and empty sex. For Clay, the future is Alma, a passionate young fiddler separated from her abusive husband and estranged from her gospel-singing parents. But the past concerns him, too: given a box of his beloved mother's possessions, he pieces together her troubled history, while his great-uncle pieces a quilt from her clothing. Violence is inescapable in a place where even Clay carries a pretty pearl-handled pistol, and his mother's violent end foreshadows a death that threatens Clay and Alma's happiness together. The Kentucky landscape is suffused with nostalgia, snow making one character yearn for the past, lonesome autumn unlocking memory's vaults. Deftly written, replete with wisdom and remarkably light on sentimentality, this lovely novel makes plain the value of family and the preciousness of familiar ground. Author tour.
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This book, is one of my favorites! It never leaves my mind. It has been over two years since I first read it, I find myself thinking about it, and feeling it all over again.