cover image WHAT ELSE BUT HOME


Sharon Rolens, . . Bridge Works, $23.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-1-882593-75-0

In this follow-up to Worthy's Town , the men of the Giberson family grapple with old demons and the complicated ties of blood in post-World War II Old Kane, Ill. Drayton Hunt, a born-again ex-convict, returns to Old Kane intent on preaching and creating a new life for himself after three years in prison. His biological son, Cappy, who was raised by his maternal grandfather, Worthy, also comes home from college to pursue his dreams of making it as a journalist. He begins writing a series of stories for a St. Louis newspaper about the rural eccentricities of an Illinois farm town and romances the young Oleeta Hetzel. Meanwhile, Worthy's son, Tick Giberson, abandons his life as an evangelist (and soured homosexual relationship with a preacher), and makes his way back to Old Kane to reconcile with the father he abandoned. The men's convergence creates significant tension as they resurrect the long-buried crimes and faults that fractured the family. Tragedy clouds their pasts: the deaths of Worthy's wife and Cappy's best friend linger years after their passing. The stories of the sad, lost Giberson men are unevenly developed, but Old Kane comes alive through a colorful cast of secondary characters (a waitress with a secret, wayward preachers, the lumbago-afflicted sheriff), and Rolens's re-creation of rural postwar America is honest and warm. (Nov.)