Thursday, August 19, 2010
Indiana: A Review
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the author with the assistance of Bostick Communication for review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publishers.
Indiana, by N.C. Weyl, is an intimate and often unsettling view into the heart of middle America in the 1930s. In a community where poverty and racism are a sub-theme of existence, readers are introduced to Samantha (Sam), a child who witnesses a terrible crime and must decide between revealing the shooter—the kindly, slow-witted Mr. Purdy who acted out of a need to protect—or letting an innocent man—the brutal and racist father of the woman attacked—go to prison for a crime he did not commit. Thrown into the mix of this drama-based-on-reality is the role of the Ku Klux Klan, the attitudes toward intermarriage and mixed-race children, and one community’s ability to change with the times…or remain inert and provincial. This is a compelling story, told from the viewpoints of multiple characters—primarily innocent children forced to make courageous decisions—and how injustice and intolerance can affect a family…and an entire community.
Indiana is set in the 1930’s in Harrison County, where we meet Sam and her Family. They have recently moved there after Sam’s father becomes the newest minister in the area. Indiana takes place within the space of two-three years and the family faces a number of situations that can only be associated with their new surroundings. The story is told from several points of view including that of Sam, her brothers Tyler and Henry, her father John and her mother Eve. These points of view help to develop the story about this family and their experiences in Harrison County. Sam’s voice is most prominent in the story.
For a self published book, I was pleasantly surprised by it. Don’t give me wrong, I have read a lot of self published work over the past few months and I sometimes wonder if the draft is ever reread by someone (anyone at all really) aside from the author themselves. The story seemed very mature and full of depth and I could see that the author put a lot of work into developing the story. Setting the story in the 1930’s brought out a lot of themes such as racial prejudice and discrimination, black sympathy and World War Two. Religious and moral duty and coming of age were also some themes that emerged. Admittedly some of these themes were featured in the story rather than developed.
I also love stories that are told from multiple points of view. This tactic lends itself to exploring a scenario from several different perspectives, thus giving the reader the chance to take their own stance. Admittedly Tyler’s point of view was my favourite. He is the youngest member in the family (we meet him at age 8) so he sees things much differently. His observations at times are the source for a lot of the comedy in the book. Sam on the other hand is a teenager and for the most part, she’s trying to understand herself and the world around her. On top of that, the family is very religious and so the readers get a lot of those values coming through in all the characters. A common side effect of telling a story through multiple points of view is story overlap. However I am glad to say that the author tried really hard to ensure that this did not occur. If it was visible, it was only done in minim to reacquaint the reader with the situation at hand.
To say the least, the characters were all well developed and relatable. They felt like the neighbors one would have if they lived in Harrison County. They all seemed to fit very well to the setting of the story. My only quam with the story is that the characters did not seem altered by the issues that they faced. They all started off with certain qualities and at the end of the book ended with the same qualities. It makes me wonder the true purpose of putting the family through such a difficult time if at the end of it all, they did not learn anything new about themselves. Also most of the dates were incorrect in the story and this made tracking the story very difficult. Aside from the usual typo errors, I enjoyed this story and I think that I would definitely read it again.
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