by Annie England Noblin
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 8, 2015)
Who says nothing happens in small towns…?
Tragedy sent Addie Andrews fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance—her beloved aunt’s somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas, population very tiny. There she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories. If only they didn’t make her feel so much!
People say nothing happens in small towns, but Addie quickly learns better. She’s got an elderly next-door neighbor who perplexingly dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, a best friend whose son uncannily predicts the weather, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.
Most surprising of all, she’s got a dog. Not just any dog, but a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost, and in desperate need of love. Kind of like Addie herself. She’d come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon she discovers that perhaps she’s finding her way back—to living, laughing, and loving once more.
“He wouldn’t have bitten you. But you call my dog a menace again, and I might.”
“You can’t feed a store-bought pie to the likes of Jasper Floyd… You want him to think you’re cheap and easy and lazy?”
“This is the first place I’ve ever lived where I had to put a dryer sheet in my pants to avoid contracting malaria.”
“What she felt after the funeral went deeper than death, and she didn’t know how to explain it to anyone.”
“Besides, even at night, Memphis is going to be hotter than a billy goat’s ass in a pepper patch.”
“That girl’s so tall if she fell down she’d be halfway home.”
“He’s so dumb he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with the instructions written on the heel.”
“He was as calm as ever, a kind of furious apathy that was one of the most unsettling things Addie had ever seen, and she was afraid.”
This gem of a novel took me by complete surprise. It was a sweet story with under-currents of grief and exasperation. It was not profound literary prose, but simply written, easy to follow, and profoundly touching. Just the right words were used in the just the right order to sting my eyes, put a hot lump in my throat, and squeeze my cold heart. I could actually start sobbing again just thinking of the scene where Addie finds a recipe in her aunt’s box with her name on it; and again, it was a simple scene yet precisely written and deeply felt. The main characters are realistic and flawed everyday type people, yet still endearing and likable. Even the villains are realistically presented and not overdone. Ms. Noblin can certainly turn a phrase and had me smirking at the down-home comments and observations made in passing. I adored this book and can’t think of enough nice things to say about it, other than I am stunned to see it is the author’s first works. I hope to see much more from this new talent.
Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.