13 October 2015

Today's Read: Stones in the Road by E. B. Moore

Stones in the Road by E. B. MooreWhat if your father treated you so horribly that you'd rather your mother and sisters think you were dead than take even more one minute of the abuse? Although only eleven years old and raised in an Amish community, Joshua sees an opportunity and runs away from his Pennsylvania home, with dreams of California filling his head.

Joshua urges his horse through the iron gate. Hoping to find his father's headstone, he dismounts at one slab not yet covered with lichen and reads the name. It's not Father's. He reads it again. Hand to his beard, he compresses his lips. The name is his own.

He never imagined this welcome, or the chiseled inscription: Beloved Boy, 1872. The year he ran from Father and the farm.
Stones in the Road by E. B. Moore (Penguin Random House / New American Library, 2015, p. 3)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: late 1800s, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and the way west to California
  • Circumstances: The book opens as twenty-one-year-old Joshua returns home for the first time in ten years after he headed west in the midst of a fire set after a tussle with his alcohol-fueled father. The story of his youth and journey are told from his point of view, while life on the family farm is told from his mother's.
  • Characters: Joshua and his mother (Miriam), father, and siblings; members of the Amish community; many people Joshua meets on his travels.
  • Genre: historical fiction; coming of age
  • Themes: family, faith, culture clash, abuse, independence, survival
  • Some early thoughts on the story: Joshua's journey has an Odyssey-like feel to it: he is both helped and hindered as he flounders in the world of the "English." His mother remains at home, the only one who still believes her son could be alive. Although Joshua was young when he left home, his Amish upbringing stays with him and informs his life on the road.
  • Thoughts on the style: The story is told in alternating viewpoints: Joshua's and Miriam's. Each of them undergoes a transformation. For Miriam, it's assuming a position of power in her family, generally unheard of for an Amish woman. For Joshua, it's finding himself in the outside world. Moore doesn't romanticize either world--English or Amish--showing the good and the bad as well as the difficulties of surviving in the late nineteenth century, whether on a farm or on the Overland Trail west. The period details reveal the novel's well-researched foundation, and the plot is well balanced in terms of inner contemplation, action, faith, and sin.
  • Something else to know: The book is based loosely on the story of the author's own grandfather, a member of the Old Order Amish, who ran away from home, returning to his family about ten years later. Moore herself was raised Quaker.


Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 10/13/15, 7:50 AM  

This one sounds really interesting...and I loved the intro. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts once you're finished with it.

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 10/13/15, 8:57 AM  

Sounds like an intense story--I would definitely keep reading.

Unknown 10/13/15, 9:00 AM  

I'm kind of obsessed with novels that contain an Amish setting/background; definitely intriguing, Beth! I hope you enjoy this one and thanks for introducing it today!

bermudaonion 10/13/15, 9:11 AM  

This sounds outstanding!

sherry fundin 10/13/15, 9:30 AM  

Would be weird looking at a headstone with your own name on it.
sherry @ fundinmental My TT

Anonymous,  10/13/15, 10:47 AM  

Ohhh! I think I'd like to read this book. That's a great teaser! My book is funny: http://wp.me/p4DMf0-XS

Suzie Quint 10/13/15, 10:49 AM  

Great teaser. Seeing your own headstone would be haunting.

Laurel-Rain Snow 10/13/15, 11:05 AM  

I am drawn to this one...the abuse is something I am familiar with, from the work I did for thirty years.

Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Unknown 10/13/15, 11:57 AM  

I like that the author doesn't romanticize either the English or the Amish world. And I imagine the two viewpoints allow her to examine each world carefully. It sounds like a good book.

Unknown 10/13/15, 11:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Nachlinger 10/13/15, 12:31 PM  

Sounds fascinating! I'd like to learn more about the Amish world and I'm always interested in the migrations to California. Sounds like a book I'd enjoy.
Thank you for stopping by my blog today.

Proxyfish @ Books by Proxy 10/13/15, 12:39 PM  

Very intriguing! Sounds like quite a haunting tale. My TT

Nise' 10/13/15, 1:17 PM  

The more I read, the more the story called to me.

Margot 10/13/15, 1:58 PM  

I like the time period on this one and the general outline of the story. The intro made me say "I'm reading this one." Off to find it.

Anonymous,  10/13/15, 2:01 PM  

Sounds like a great read.


Literary Feline 10/13/15, 5:48 PM  

How interesting! Taking the opening and description together, I'm especially intrigued. The opening alone would draw me in. I hope this turns out to be a good one. It sounds like it could be.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 10/13/15, 8:19 PM  

That intro drew me in, I'd read more.

Yvonne 10/13/15, 9:34 PM  

Not usually my kind of read, but this sounds excellent.

Monica's Bookish Life 10/13/15, 9:43 PM  

I love the intro, so I'd keep reading!

Daryl 10/14/15, 9:14 AM  

its a great opening, a great hook ...thanks i will put it on my list

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