The Lost Saints of Tennessee

Amy Franklin-Willis. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2005-2
In 1985, a decade after losing his twin brother, Carter, in a drowning accident, Zeke Cooper leaves his hometown of Clayton, Tenn. (and his teenage daughters and ex-wife), with enough pain pills to kill himself and his dog. Despite the novel’s gloomy undertones, Franklin-Willis’s well-rendered debut slowly charms—complete with a Southern drawl—as Zeke lands at his mother’s cousin’s farm in Virginia. There, Zeke begins a romance with Elle, a horseback riding teacher, but he remains stuck in the past, grieving for his brother and angry with his mother, Lillian, who’s been recently diagnosed with cancer. Lillian proves a more compelling and introspective character than Zeke, and she briefly takes over as narrator, recounting the many tragedies in her life, including Carter being diagnosed as mentally handicapped when he was a child, a lurid affair with her brother-in-law, and a haunting drunk-driving accident. Together, mother’s and son’s tangled stories from the ’40s and ’50s provide just enough insight into the present-day family dynamic for readers to believe that there’s hope for Zeke after all. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 475 pages - 978-1-4104-4860-6
Paperback - 343 pages - 978-0-8021-2081-6
Ebook - 343 pages - 978-0-8021-9484-8
MP3 CD - 978-1-5113-9485-7
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