The Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I grabbed the The Good Dream from the bargain section at Chapters and have not regretted the purchase at all. In fact, this is one of my top contenders for favourite novels I have read in 2013.
Tennessee, 1950s. Ivorie Walker is a spinster in her 30s and all hope has been lost for her. Her parents have passed on and her closest family is a brother who runs a general store in a nearby town. Ivorie teaches at the town school and takes care of her family's small farm that she has lived on all her life.
Ivorie, of course, feels the pressure of being a spinster, especially when her mother was alive. Constantly being set up on dates with men she is not attracted to, Ivorie has found herself content to be single. With the death of her parents however, loneliness sets in and she moves through the creaking old farmhouse late at night, reliving memories of her parents and childhood.
Generally her character is not unhappy but she recognizes that she is missing something from her life. Early in the novel she begins to see a widower who she actually finds herself attracted to and envisions a future with.
Her plans are interrupted though, when she finds a young boy rooting around in her garden. It quickly becomes clear that he is impoverished, abused and comes from the mountains nearby. The town looks at the mountain folk as backwards dangerous people and they all advise her to stay away from the little boy and mind her home business.
Having a heart of compassion though, Ivorie brings the boy into her house whenever he visits and she feeds him and talks to him despite his apparent inability to talk. She slowly becomes drawn closer to him and ends up performing a brave rescue, bringing him down the mountain to stay permanently with her.
The fallout of her kindness is a town, even a widower, who does not support to her decision. There are secrets between people and the boy is one of them... Ivorie learns to ignore what others are saying and continue giving love and care to the deeply abused little boy.
This is a beautiful novel. The message is so moving and transforming. In many ways VanLiere manages to gentle rebuke the reader and leaves one wondering: in what ways do I help those in need around me?
I found the writing style easy to read (I saw some reviews complaining it was TOO EASY, but I did not personally feel that way) and the descriptions were clear and precise. Ivorie quotes little sayings that her mother used to tell her which are endearing and interesting. VanLiere does a great job of bringing the reader into Tennessee and the Appalachian mountains.
The narrative also switches back and forth between "Ivorie" and "Boy". The point-of-view through his eyes is simultaneously heart-breaking and engrossing.
I highly recommend this novel. I felt so uplifted by the general message of it and loved the outcome. Ivorie is led to a crossroads where she must make the choice to help someone in pain or to walk on by. If only we had more Good Samaritans in our society...
4/5 stars. My only small complaint was that I didn't find the description on the dust jacket a completely accurate description of the novel: most of the novel was spent on Ivorie meeting the boy and beginning their relationships as opposed to the secrets of the town.
View all my reviews