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~E-PUB ☰ Prayers and Lies ♱ When Seven Year Old Bethany Meets Her Six Year Old Cousin Reana Mae, It S The Beginning Of A Kinship Of Misfits That Saves Both From A Bone Deep Loneliness Every Summer, Bethany And Her Family Leave Indianapolis For West Virginia S Coal River Valley For Bethany S Mother, The Trips Are A Reminder Of The Coalmines And Grinding Poverty Of Her Childhood, Of A Place She D Hoped To Escape But Her Loving Relatives, And Bethany S Friendship With Reana Mae, Keep Them Coming Back But As Bethany Grows Older, She Realizes That Life In This Small, Close Knit Community Is Not As Simple As She Once Thoughtat The Riverside Cabins That Hold So Much Of Her Family S History Also Teem With Scandalous Whispersd That Those Closest To Her Harbor Unimaginable Secrets Amid The Dense Woods And Quiet Beauty Of The Valley, These Secrets Are Coming To Light At Last, With A Force Devastating Enough To Shatter Lives, Faith, And The Bond That Bethany Once Thought Would Last Forever Spanning Four Decades, Sherri Wood Emmons Debut Is A Haunting, Captivating Novel About The Unexpected, Sometimes Shocking Events That Thrust Us Into Adulthood And The Connections That Keep Us Tethered, Always, To Our Pasts Well written for the most part, but I don t appreciate the way the author treated an abusive incestuous situation between an 11 year old and her adult uncle as a relationship Although it was portrayed as a wrong and inappropriate relationship, it was never portrayed as rape, abuse, or incest Despite the close relationship many of the characters had with Reana Mae, none of them ever told her that what her uncle Caleb did to her was abuse They simply acted as if her relationship was wrong because he was older and he was her uncle The writer herself didn t seem to view this as abuse.Sherri Wood Emmons treatment of the subject simply corroborates what I believe is a desensitization of the sexual abuse of children in our society How many times in media reports do you hear that a teacher has been arrested for an inappropriate relationship with a student An adult preying on a child does not result in a relationship, it results in the sexual abuse of a child by a pedophile Why can t we just call it what it is Mother had a saying You don t hang underwear on the outside line And our secrets stayed neatly cloistered within the family, where they belonged That was our way for a long time, until we couldn t hide them anyThis book isn t going to do anything to help combat Appalachian stereotypes, but there s no denying the addictive quality of this Southern family drama.Bethany Wylie and her family always vacation in West Virginia s Coal Valley mountain to see her father s relatives Her mother and three sisters don t like going down there, but to Bethany, these mountains are her home away from home Especially since her cousin Reana Mae lives there, so she has a constant playmateAll my life I had three sisters three strangers I lived with but never really knew Sitting in the mud on that muggy day, I found my real sister Reana and I were connected in a way I ve never been with anyone else Her story and mine got so tangled up together, sometimes it felt like I was just watching from the outside, like she was the one living Sometimes, I hated her for that But mostly, I loved herTheir deep, abiding love for one another keeps the Wylies coming back time and time again, even though they would rather forget But deep within the mountains and valleys of their little hollow, secrets that are meant to be buried start coming to the surface over the years, and burrowing themselves in the Wylie family until they threaten to spill over I m not gonna lie I m a total sucker for anything Southern or related to Appalachia I guess because the town I m from has a lot of people who moved from the Midwest South Appalachia back in the 1930s when the Dust Bowl and Great Depression hit But I love the landscape, the culture, and the abiding sense of familial pride that comes with the territory Bethany is the only one in her family that feels a sense of belonging in those hills, and the way she describes it will have you feeling right at home beside her as wellThere was so much life in that valley Babies were born and old folks died in those houses by the river Our own cottage had seen weddings and births and even a death or two The red checked curtains in the bedroom I shared with Tracy were hand sewn by my Grandmother Araminta when she was young and newly widowed The sagging porch out back was where Joe Colvin first kissed my Great Aunt Arathena The weathered picnic table in the kitchen had groaned under Thanksgiving turkeys than I will ever eat It was my family s place, even if they didn t seem to know it It was homeAs her boyfriend stated to her once, her family is so interesting They re completely dysfunctional and cuckoo, but from reading you can tell the fierce bond they have with one another.And let me tell you something serious shit goes down here As I said in the beginning, this book isn t going to win any awards when it comes to Appalachian hillbilly stereotypes Because this book pretty much contains every single one of them From the white trash angle to the cousin cest , to the hard drinking to the religious fervor that seems to grip even the most unardent of believers, it s all thereValley folk took their religion tempered with a hard dose of pragmatism If rother Harley spent time than was absolutely seemly with Arabella Lee well, look at his wife, after all If the mining men drank too much beer or even whiskey on Saturday night well, didn t they earn that privilege, working underground six days a week If Reana Mae had been born only six months after Bobby Lee and Jolene got married well, at least they made it legal in timeI really don t think anyone from that area would be particularly thrilled as they read it, but damn does the author know how to write descriptions well.But at the heart of the story is the women and the bonds between them and their familiesThe Bible says that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons of the seventh generation But I believe it s the daughters who bear the brunt of most family sins At least that s so in my familyBethany and Reana Mae are cousins and best friends, with them being both completely different but also frighteningly alike How their families, though not even living in the same states and seeing each other sporadically, We see the transformation of Reana Mae from a forgotten, quiet child to a beautiful but etherally violent tweenager she becomes And we see Bethany come to realize that, as they get older, the Reana Mae she knows from her childhood will be long gone before she ever finds a solution Throughout it all, they and their mothers bear the brunt of the family drama with as much grace as they can possibly muster I loved their friendship however, I am hesitant to understand why the author chose to label Bethany an outcast She didn t seem to be all that outside of the social circle, with friends and a boyfriend and a core group of supporters So in that sense, I do think the author didn t develop that side of the character that she wanted to However, the star of the show is Bethany s sister Tracy, the most tragic character in the entire story and that s saying something, considering how many colorful cuckoo s there are From the very beginning, you know something s not right with her And as the novel gradually progresses, she becomes even volatile and prone to violent emotional outbursts and mood swings And much like Tracy herself, you ll find your feelings toward her swinging like a pendalum one minute you ll hate her, the next minute you ll feel like there s nothing wrong about her But I think the most powerful emotion of all you ll feel is pity Pity for how much potential there is inside of her, but how wasted it will become due to her mental illness the author never explicitly states, but it s most likely bipolar And since her mental illness wasn t even known at the time, and treatments weren t available, she is a character that is doomed to fail.Despite the fact that these characters are put through the wringer and have downs than ups in their lives, you won t be able to not care about them The characters are so colorful, vibrant, and unapologetically themselves that it s impossible not to become invested in their story The author pulls you into her depraved but starkly beautiful world in the Appalachian hills, and not letting go until the explosive but devastating finale. An appropriate thought provoking title for this book about acceptance and forgiveness a remarkable story of love, friendship, being a teenager, the compelling need to be wanted and needed, lies, secrets, and the dichotomy of pain and joy Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae draw you in to their lives growing up in the Coal River valley of West Virginia When Bethany begins to realize familial dark secrets, her world begins to change and she wrestles with integrity, loyalty, and devotion Bethany, who lives in Indiana, spends every summer with her family at their cottage in West Virginia There she enjoys the lazy lifestyle with her cousin Reana Mae In the winters, they write back and forth sharing the angst of adolescence But one summer, things are altered and difficult for her to understand Even though her heart tells her not to, she swears to keep a secret that begins to unravel many different lives Tracey, her older sister taunts and torments them both in cruel and at times surprisingly ways Life is honestly portrayed in this book at times poignant and other times heartbreaking I found this read enthralling and it stayed with me long after I finished the last page.Although for adults, high school students will easily relate and enjoy this haunting story. This book captivated me.almost like a car wreck though as the plot and characters were emotionally raw There was no sugar coating what was happening in their lives I thought the book was extremely well written and developed to the point that it amazes me this was a first time author My complaints I needed a geneology chart to remember who was related to who and how I also was very upset that the abuses were accepted by the families and characterized as normal to a degree Why wasn t anyone punished Disturbing how the sexual abuse of a minor was considered a relationship The bad blood psychological issues were well written, especially in the character of Tracey you could feel this young women s torment in every rage episode and hate filled speech However, at some point I just wish the parents would have realized how Tracy also ruined everyone else s life and stepped in.denying or placating the behavior associated with a mental illness didn t seem to help anyone in the end I also felt that the epilogue missed out on resolving the fates of Jolene and Caleb. As a native West Virginian, I was very anxious to read this book After completion, I have mixed emotions I became pulled in by the story line and loved the sweet natured narrator I thought Ms Emmons was quite proficient in character development She had me gritting my teeth while reading about Tracy s hatefulness and feeling as though my heart would break every time Reana Mae was mistreatedwhich unfortunately was often The characters Southern West Virginia dialect was spot on.The content was extremely difficult at times I felt her sex scenes were overly explicit She could have roused the same emotions in the reader with less blatant depiction Sometimes innuendo works better than an abrupt dose of ugly reality I was frustrated with the increasingly vile language I understand the implication was that Reana Mae grew up to be a rough young woman, but occasional usage would have sufficed I believe authors and film makers today misjudge our desire to hear read unsavory language A little bit of it goes a long way. By far, one of the best books I ve read in quite awhile The story takes place in West Virginia and is told in Bethany s POV The setting is late 1960 s 1970 s, with the last chapter being 1982 It centers mostly on Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae It s a story which revolves around a family and extended family, and the lies and secrets It s equal parts sad, happy and infuriating I am so glad I finally picked this up and read it Oh I loved this book What an amazing tale This book immediately became one of my favorites I would highly recommend. This book was wonderfully written, and really had me in an emotional tirade about the characters I was rooting for some, disgusted at some, and by the end, I came to understand I had two problems with this book, and that s why I down rated it 1 There were too many names thrown at me right in the beginning, so many that I had to go back and reread the first few chapters after I was some way into the novel, so I could get everything straight in my head Same with at the end, when everything was explained, there were just too many names in one place 2 The ending epilogue was too quick it just happened in about two pages, and only a few things were explained I would have liked to know how things were after view spoiler Tracy died, how her family coped, and maybe about Brian and Bethy s relationship not just how they got married some years later hide spoiler When Bethany meets her cousin Reana Mae, it s the beginning of a friendship that will last forever Every summer Bethany and her family leave Indianapolis for West Virginia s Coal River Valley These trips remind Bethany s mother of the coal mines and grinding poverty of her childhood But because of their relatives, and Bethany s friendship with Reana Mae, they keep coming back As Bethany grows older she learns that life in this small town isn t as simple as she once thought The secrets of this little town are coming out and shattering lives, faith, and a bond Bethany thought she would always have The quality of this book is great Its not written in modern talk The author writes the book in the way that these people talked back then Also each chapter seems to be just another short story that all seem to come together in the end Everything in this story is so real Some stories that are written you can tell that certain parts are made up, but not this story The author makes you feel like you are there like you are living in that exact moment The theme of this book to me is a coming of age book It shows how Bethany grows up and acts in a totally different way than Reana Mae as she grows up They grow up in two different lives and that effects them as a person a lot Even though they were such great friends when they were younger they are so different now as they are older.