I couldn't finish the book, it made me too sad. I got 57% of the way through, so I don't know how it ends. It's not a plot-driven novel anyway. I'm not rating it by how much I liked it. I'm rating by the skill of the author in the crafting of the story and the beauty of the author's voice in telling this story.
A poor girl in the roaring 20's, with aspirations of fame and a singing voice that might get her there, finds herself all alone - a sheep in the midst of wolves - when her father dies. She sets her sights on fame and is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, and I do mean whatever it takes. Up to the point I stopped it was just one misuse and abuse after another. My heart just can't take it anymore. I want to swoop in and give her a loving family.
That being said, the 5 star rating I gave it is for the sheer beauty of the language. It's written in a Mississippi drawl that flows like the black water of the river through the pages. It's authentic and raw. Even in the most jarring of scenes the language's eloquent beauty softens the blow just a little.
I think you're meant to dislike all the characters. No one has any redeeming qualities, at least not to the point I stopped reading. The girl, Emily Ann, is as naive as they come, promiscuous, self-centered... just a teen left to fend for herself. Everyone else wants to use her. Even those professing to love her. It's heartbreaking. Truth be told I hated the story because it darkened the days I spent reading it. It is beautifully told, though. If the author tries his hand at something less traumatic to the soul I would absolutely buy and read it.
If you don't mind having your heart broken, you will like this book. I wish it were a brighter story because I love the way the author writes. Again, I don't know how it ends. It may brighten up toward the end. I just can't drag my heart through anymore of Emily Ann's life. If you like drama and a sad story-line, buy this book. It gives me the same overall feeling as The Green Mile and is just as well told. The book really is beautifully written. It deserves a chance for that alone. I'm just exceptionally tenderhearted, especially when it comes to children.
Get your copy here.