Archive for the ‘World On The Edge’ Category

Notice the picture above. At the very top, we see the segment of a brain. Just below are hands moving up, as if searching for the brain. And then the absence of eyes, and the sewed up mouth, all surrounded by pieces of indistinct shapes that seem to be taking over.  What if the picture were symbolic of our beloved America–a composite of all of us–as our freedoms are being taken away?

Let’s start at the top, with the brain. Everything we know and do, all the sense of human thought, all the feelings of human emotion, all the questions of human existence; are the product of the brains in our heads.  Common sense is a by-product of human thought based on experience. For example, if we have once experienced touching a hot stove, the next time we are at the stove, common sense steps in as a warning not to make the same mistake. But what if we could be fooled into believing there was no danger? Would we touch the stove again?

Today, the left wing of the Democrat party is trying to fool our common sense, trying to make us think that there is no danger in their twisted politics which includes, of all things–Socialism! Socialism works for no one except for the elite at the top–a great deal of difference from capitalism which has its problems with greed, yet still provides for all of us, not simply the government elites. In capitalism some may indeed be richer than the majority, but though all human beings are equal in the eyes of God and should be treated as such in society, it is plainly true, and just common sense, that human beings do have varying abilities, some of which are God-given talents. And yes, some have more advantages, which come from a plethora of reasons, one reason being a strong, traditional family. This is plain fact. Attention to strengthening the family is what America needs to secure equality–not Socialism. The freebies of big government Socialism always cost–usually someone else who cannot and should not be required to pay for them. America is a generous country, helping those in need or in danger, as they say, who cannot help themselves. But a murderous hypocrisy has taken over the Democrat party–refusal to come to the aid of the most helpless of human beings, the unborn. Socialism will not work, the same as Communism doesn’t work. Time and again this has historically been shown. Politicians can draw up any sort of theory they want to persuade a constituency, but that theory has to play out- and NO form of Socialism has played out with success.

Back to the picture.

The hands in the picture seem to be searching for something lost– perhaps our Common Sense?

Move down to the blind eyes. Have they been blinded in order to block-out the freedoms that have long been important to us? Take for example the so-called Equality Act passed by the House.  This act is the opposite of equality–its name is an example of Orwellian Newspeak , where the government mandates how language is used to control the minds of its citizens, where the so-called ‘victim classes’ are used for their own ends.  This act is all about coercion, nothing more.  But there are  courageous people from all backgrounds, even liberal ones, who will not be forced into far-left policies; they walk away.

Move to the sewed-up mouth. Is speech that expresses long-held American belief being shut down? Has our American history been revised and replaced by biased scientists with a false history that suits a leftist agenda? Has the verbal teaching of good science  been replaced with fairytale teaching, even to young children, that a woman can be a man, or a man can be a woman? Has it become moral to lie and call it justice in an attempt to take down our rightful President by calumny?  Or a Supreme Court Judge, or even a social media commenter we do not agree with? Are we really being honest about our border, putting American citizens in danger because of our personal political agendas? Are we becoming so superficial a people that morals don’t matter to us anymore? Well, we should all wake up, because morals DO matter to God. And before HIM will come our final justice.

Finally, those indistinct shapes that seem to be taking over the above picture could be seen as a bad end coming for our beautiful country of America, a nation that allows for our human freedoms–and the human responsibility for our own singular lives. But that end is not here yet, and does not have to come at all. There is still time to recover our COMMON SENSE and see Freedom for what it truly is, a divine gift to each and every human being, a gift we must recognize in ourselves and fight for. Let’s get to it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,

Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. —Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, 1776

 

 

My father was a banker by trade, but a fisherman at heart. There is not one reachable body of salt or fresh water –river, lake, or Gulf — that he did not fish. And often, he took me with him. On those trips, I learned a lot about baiting a hook, and casting, and which lure to use, and the hardest lesson of all: how to have patience.  They were times for talking (quietly, of course) while watching your cork, eating canned Vienna sausage and crackers, and drinking loads of iced tea from a thermos. I felt loved and valued, so important for a child, especially a daughter. I thank my father for that and for all fathers–especially my own sons and sons-in law–who make their daughters and sons feel loved and valued, too.

Happy Father’s Day to All!

Several book clubs have inquired about my books. SOOO, From Friday June 7 until Tuesday June 11, my two INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD WINNERS, from 2018 and 2019, will be FREE on Kindle. The Wind That Shakes the Corn, and The Ghosts of Faithful.

Hope you enjoy! 🙂
https://www.amazon.com/Kaye-Park-Hinckley/e/B00BBC2C8O…

 

 

 

All men and women are entrusted by God with the task of crafting their own life. Ideally, we are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece. Underlying our task, is a recognition of a sense of mystery, a sense of beauty, and a sense of the eternal. These senses must be developed because our world often promotes superficiality, false glory, and self- profit, rather than the Truth of our destiny–our beautifully human interaction with our Creator. Of course, we make the choice to interact with God, or not.

For an artist, it is the same;  to finely craft his God-given talent by developing those same senses of mystery, beauty, and the eternal, both for himself and those who view, hear, or read it.

When an artist writes words, writes music, acts in film or on stage, or sculpts, he is making a statement about the world as he understands it. It may be a good world that he wants to praise, or a rotten world that he wants to condemn, or a godless world of only superficial importance. But artists, too, have a choice. Do we lift up humanity, including ourselves; or do we denigrate it, and thereby denigrate ourselves as well?

In shaping a masterpiece, the artist not only summons his work into being, but also in some way reveals his own personality by means of it. For him art offers both a new dimension and an exceptional mode of expression for his spiritual growth. Through his works, the artist speaks to others and communicates with them. The history of art, therefore, is not only a story of works produced but also a story of men and women. Works of art speak of their authors; they enable us to know their inner life, and they reveal the original contribution which artists offer to the history of culture. —St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

A common experience to humanity is one of depravity; a Christian artist realizes this, so uses a lens accepting that the grace of God is offered to humanity in spite of its depravity.This does not mean that a realistic view of our often-corrupt world should not be shown. Art is about Truth, and evil is real. But so is goodness. An artist, especially a writer, might set a character in a world of evil in order to shine forth an opportunity of a redemption, whether the character takes it or not.

Even when they explore the darkest depths of the soul or the most unsettling aspects of evil, artists give voice in a way to the universal desire for redemption.St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

If the mind and heart of the artist stems from his own desire for redemption, then it will come through in his words, films, music, paintings, or sculpture. The opposite is also true. If moral deterioration is portrayed with no regard for redemption, then there is no masterpiece, and the artist has surely failed humanity, and himself.

Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.–St. John Paul II, Letter to Artists

We make our own way in this world, and out of it, with our singular decisions and actions. We are meant to use our talents, whatever they may be, for good. Each of us will leave a legacy for those who come after us. What sort of legacy will it be?

 

With such instability and suffering in our world today, we may be searching for some PERSPECTIVE as to why things are ‘as they are.’

Consider first, perspective in Art.

Perspective drawings have a horizon line, which is often implied. This line, directly opposite the viewer’s eye, represents objects infinitely far away. They have shrunk, in the distance, to the infinitesimal thickness of a line we call the horizon.

In a perspective drawing, the scene includes parallel lines that have one or more vanishing points. All lines parallel with the viewer’s line of sight recede to the horizon towards this vanishing point. This is the standard “receding railroad tracks” phenomenon.

However, this line is seen not only in Art, but also in Philosophy–the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence.

The French philosopher and Jesuit priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, refers to it as The Omega Point, and thought of it as a cone–one that we are all rising through to its apex–Christ. He clarifies it like this: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” (Flannery O’Connor fans will recall this as the title of her last short story collection, influenced by the philosophy of de Chardin).

“In a Universe of ‘Conical’ structure Christ has a place (the apex!) ready for Him to fill, when His Spirit can radiate through all the centuries and all beings; and because of the genetic links running through all the levels of Time and Space between the elements of a convergent world, the Christ-influence, far from being restricted to the mysterious zones of “grace,” spreads and penetrates throughout the entire mass of Nature in movement. In such a world Christ cannot sanctify the Spirit without (as the Greek Fathers intuitively perceived) uplifting and saving the totality of Matter. Christ becomes truly universal to the full extent of Christian needs, and in conformity with the deepest aspirations of our age the Cross becomes the Symbol, the Way, the very Act of progress…..”

I will pause the quote here–because this speaks to me–in a philosophical way– as an explanation of why there is suffering in our God-created world, something so hard for a human being to accept!

But de Chardin continues…”Within a Universe of convergent structure the only possible way in which an element can draw closer to its neighboring elements is by tightening the cone. In such an order of things no man can love his neighbor without drawing nearer to God and, of course, reciprocally (but this we knew already). But it is also impossible (this is newer to us) to love either God or our neighbor without assisting the progress, in its physical entirety, of the terrestrial synthesis of the spirit: since it is precisely the progress of this synthesis which enables us to draw closer together among ourselves, while at the same time it raises us toward God.”

Another pause, because I see in this a value for suffering.

de Chardin, continuing again…”Because we love, and in order that we may love even more, we find ourselves happily and especially compelled to participate in all the endeavors, all the anxieties, all the aspirations and also all the affections of the earth….”

As a child, my grandmother –who lived to be nearly one hundred years old– never failed to comment on the pain of my skinned knees, the loss of a boyfriend, my less than good grade, or any of my youthful disappointments. Her words were always, “Offer it up.” I had no real idea what she was talking about until I reached adulthood and went through some very trying and tearful times. Her words were the same, with a little added on: “Offer it up. It will make you stronger.”

But because we are human, our physical selves find suffering hard to accept. So I think we have to be philosophical about it. We have to have a perspective. All people will suffer in one way or another, and all people ( no matter how much others intend to help) must walk through that suffering alone. It is indeed a personally lonesome valley, and yet it is universal–the cone tightens for all of us. We are in it together, and together raised toward God.

I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.
― Og Mandino

DOES MY LIFE MATTER???

Posted: May 20, 2019 in World On The Edge

In today’s world, we have so much more materially than those who have gone before us–but we have ignored ourselves spiritually. There is much confusion about who a human being is, and what his purpose is meant to be.

Some people, especially those grasping for political office, appear to see themselves as set upon the earth distinctly for their own purposes, using others to get there. They want to change our way of thinking. They want to control us, and our vote. The political and moral climate of our present America has spawned many people like this who want to change the moral and political mores of our country, and they are “not nice” in their attempt to do it.

To mask their real motives, and to confuse Americans, the people following this playbook spout ‘nice-sounding’ but self-serving phrases such as “Love conquers Hate, etc. without applying the phrase to themselves. But what they are really after are hateful things, such as abortion up until the time–and even after– a baby is born! They want the dissipation of traditional marriage. They want to “give-away” America through illegal immigration, an open door to drugs, sex trafficking, and especially the abuse of innocent children. They hold the outrageous idea that a person can manipulate his or her sex. They praise Socialism as if its track record was wonderful, rather than the cause of demise for many nations. We must open our eyes to all this, or pay the consequences, but many are keeping their eyes closed, confused by false platitudes.

The confusion is being assisted by an undisciplined media, including most of Hollywood and some of the music industry, and even misguided theologians who we might expect to know better, yet they don’t appear to. Rather, some have even joined the fake causes!

How can so many be led astray? How can so many not see the evil in all of this?

Daily, everyone chooses between good and evil. It is our human nature. A mature person recognizes the signs of evil within himself, and attempts to re-attach to the good by seeking forgiveness and moving forward.  But when someone cannot/will not admit wrong-doing, a big problem exists for him or her. Instead of admitting they are doing wrong, and trying to fix it, they go overboard to make their wrong SEEM right.  Exactly what is happening in our present America through the playbook of the very far left.

 It is important to realize that trickery is being used today by some people with intentionally selfish motives. It is important to remember that wolves have been known to wear sheep’s clothing. Let’s think for ourselves, not jump on a very dangerous bandwagon that will not only take us down individually, but our country as well. We must use our common sense.

Most of all, we should realize that LOVE is not a word to throw around when it’s convenient to our own ends. It is a word to live up to. Love is a an action that comes from our spirituality, not our physicality– an all-encompassing standard created within us by God. In fact, our ability to truly love shows that God lives within us. But today, the selfish, fake representations of LOVE that many support are shameful, and they are digging a grave for  America.

For each one of us, life here on earth goes by fast. Our time to die will come, and what we have done here WILL MATTER.  We can put on blinders and try to make evil seem good, but that is a very risky lie to tell ourselves.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.—Isaiah 5:20

fAITHUL COVER 3 BNSAVE

When The Ghosts of Faithful won First-Runner-up for Poets & Writers Magazine’s Maureen Egen Award, it was a novel in progress. Here’s what Victor La Valle, author, Professor at Columbia, and Judge of the contest had to say about it:

Faithful suggests a broad canvas–a well-rendered local; a promising war of equals in the characters, a clear desire to address/tackle the issues larger than the back and forth, and a clear understanding on the author’s part about pacing and clarity. Also, I thought the father’s chapter was really funny!

NOW, THE GHOSTS OF FAITHFUL HAS WON THE 2019 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD FOR RELIGION FICTION!!

‘Ghosts’ is the second novel of mine to win this prestigious award. The first–The Wind That Shakes the Corn: Memoirs of a Scots Irish Woman–won the same in 2018.

My novels are about everyday people, flawed people, just like you and I. But they are presented in the context of being very valuable because they are human beings created by God, and no matter what they are doing or have done, their actions are known by God who loves them. Do the characters change their ways? Some of them do, and some don’t. That’s life.

I write fiction as I do because of my Catholic faith. What’s different about that?

I.

First of all, the soul of Catholic Fiction is that God exists and works in the lives of sinful, fallen in people who have totally rejected Him–and that He does this out of love, regardless of how forcefully a character tries try to shut Him out. And we need to know that.

2.

Secondly, because Catholic Fiction points to our true identity as human beings, which is that we are not just happenstance entities placed on Earth. We are God’s children, created by Him and made in His image and likeness, and that we have a greater purpose here. And hopefully, Catholic Fiction does this through stories in which we can see ourselves, and with language and imagery that points to the divine in each one of us.

3.

And then, thirdly, Catholic Fiction attracts us to what we lack on Earth, something larger and more beautiful than what this material world can give. And honestly I think in their hearts most people know this. It may not be the underpinning of a lot of fiction as much as other subjects are, but the yearning is definitely in every person, though they may have crusted it over with ‘stuff’ that our culture says we ought to have. And this is an innate yearning that only the divine can satisfy. People are seeking the beauty of God, whether they classify it as such or not.

 

What is the key characteristic of Catholic Fiction?

The Sacramental aspect of the Catholic Church. We are bound by the Sacraments of the church and believe that they are instruments of grace. Think of our definition of grace—an outward sign instituted by God to give grace. Then go to this Flannery O’Connor quote:

From the Sign to the thing Signified
From the Visible to the Invisible
From the Sacrament to the Mystery

The Catholic sacramental view of life is one that sustains, and supports at every turn, the vision that the storyteller must have if he is going to write fiction of any depth.

 

Synopsis of The Ghosts of Faithful:

Izzy Collier runs the Food Bank in a town called Faithful, on the banks of the Suwannee River. She is the least amicable of two daughters in a frustrating family; all, keeping secrets of betrayal. Her parents are at odds with both daughters, and with each other. Her sister, always Izzy’s competition, is an unstable former beauty queen, the wife of a philanderer, and the mother of four. Now, their ninety-four year-old grandmother sees her dead husband’s ghost, accompanied by a strange little girl. At the same time, Izzy’s husband, a defense lawyer, is being forced by his boss to effect the acquittal of a teenager accused of the rape and murder of a child. When Izzy starts to see her deceased grandfather and the little girl, too, she questions her sanity. What if the little girl ghost is the murdered child? But then, why would she be with Izzy’s grandfather? Are the ghosts after revenge, justice, or something greater?

SINNER OR SAINT???

Posted: May 7, 2019 in World On The Edge

The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.–Oscar Wilde

As rare as the saints among us, a good short story is hard to find. But Kaye Park Hinckley’s collection, “Birds of a Feather,” remains with us with the power of an epic novel.

Hinckley’s expert literary craftsmanship is matched by the drama of Judeo-Christian values confronting American relativism and egoism.

ANGELUS NEWS BOOK REVIEW:

In “Birds of a Feather,” a wife and mother feels trapped by a secret. An abortion doctor’s mother would never have considered the option he offers. An Alzheimer’s sufferer feels judged and drives to his childhood home.

The birds in Kaye Park Hinckley’s short story collection, “Birds of a Feather,” all find themselves from flocks of Catholics. Their family members, or at least a shining few, believe in forgiveness, hope and redemption.

But it’s the sinners with whom we most sympathize. How can we not? Hinckley’s expert literary craftsmanship is matched by the drama of Judeo-Christian values confronting American relativism and egoism.

It’s Easter Sunday when the wife’s grandmother, on her deathbed, whispers, “We know the truth.”

The abortion doctor sees a newborn grasping for life then kills her.

The Alzheimer’s patient is frightened by the unforgiving eyes of that blonde woman, his wife. This fear leads his mind to relive his experience as a soldier crawling on his belly through enemy fire. In present day, he screams out loud — a military command to his fellow soldiers — scaring his daughter to tears.

Unlike his caretakers, the reader can see the interweaving of his past and present experiences. If you have ever stood at the bedside of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, Hinckley’s depiction helps to make sense of a beloved’s puzzling, and at times hurtful, outbursts.

For individuals struggling toward redemption, despite themselves, there are moments where the light, or, as the saying goes, the truth, hurts. “A patch of blue sky births an unblemished sun so holy in appearance I turn away.” Pain often accompanies being awoken to truth. “A ruthless streak of sunlight wakes me.”

Hinckley’s fallen humans are driving home. Many of them literally. All of them figuratively. Though some at the close of the story take “a procedural deviation from integrity,” we find ourselves hoping, alongside the practicing Catholic in the family, that they make it home.

Hinckley’s characters are alive. Their flaws and struggles create dramatic tension and lead us to reckon with the sinner and saint within. Throughout there is an uncanny presence of the Communion of Saints.

This is most explicit in “The Pleasure of Company: A Ghost Story.” The loving souls of two deceased grandparents tell us that their granddaughter, Julia, “is not alone …We are here … Ghosts from the past. Grandparents who love her.”

Each struggling character evokes a feeling of care within us. I will buy this book for all in my life on this side of the veil. It will be loved especially by the fiction aficionados and all the birds who have flown askew, losing the flock. “As one might lift a tiny, injured bird falling from a tree…”

As rare as the saints among us, a good short story is hard to find. But Hinckley’s collection, “Birds of a Feather,” remains with us with the power of an epic novel.

A custodian is defined as person who has responsibility for or looks after something. Synonyms are keeper, guardian, steward, and protector.

Most of us realize that we are custodians of the Earth, guardians of the forces and processes that produce and control the balance of Nature in order to protect it. The prospect of global warming is one aspect of this protection that is currently touted as if we can do something about it. And there are many more which scientists struggle to understand.

But there is a higher nature here on Earth, a nature more vital than even the magnificent universe.  And that nature is the nature of a human being. The nature of a Man or a Woman is actually more profound than the puzzling workings of the universe. Shouldn’t we protect and guard that nature as well?

First, we have to understand what the nature of a human being truly is. We have to understand who we truly are and why we are here at all.

We are more than a product of our environment, more than a highly evolved animal. We are creations of God, as is the universe. BUT we are the highest of God’s creations. In fact, we are made in His image and likeness. This does not mean that we look like God. God is spirit. But it does mean that we have inherited His spirit within us. His Holy Spirit. Because of this, our human nature has definite capabilities that are not found in Earth’s nature, or even in the nature of animals.

In our human nature, we have a memory with an imagination in which we possess the capacity for mercy and compassion. We have an intellect, through which we possess the capacity for faith and humility. And we have a will, by which we possess the capacity to love.

But how much emphasis is put on the guardianship of this kind of nature, our human nature?  Not much. Instead, we act as if human beings are inconsequential, and nothing special.  We see this in the fact that we will abort an innocent child up to and even after the time of birth. We see it in terrorism when groups some disagree with, or do not find useful, are killed. We certainly see this in parental child abuse, and in pedophile activity. And we see it in ourselves and our addictions that harm our own bodies. What poor custodians we are of God’s greatest creation!

The fact is our individual human nature is beyond magnificent–and the only nature we can do anything about. We can’t change the nature of the world. We can’t stop hurricanes or earthquakes, floods or droughts, or even global warming. But we can change ourselves to become more in line with what God intended a human being to be.

And we do this individually, as God meant it. Because each of us was chosen by God to exist.

Before time began God chose each one of us and this choice was deliberate. God saw all the possible human beings He might have created throughout the history of the world. Out of possible billions of human beings that might have existed in God’s mind—His Eye rested on each one of us and then stopped looking and said, “You (insert your own name)shall be.” He saw all who could have been and decided they would not be. His providence placed us in a time and state of life that would bring out our greatest potential.–Mother Angelica.

God knows our name. He chose us because He loved us and meant us to freely love others through our memory, intellect, and will. And yes, we can choose not to love. Choice is necessarily a component of free will, with memory and intellect to keep the consequences of our choices in balance.

He gave each of us special talents, gifts and natural virtues all geared towards a deeper knowledge of Himself. Even those whose circumstances prevent them from knowing Him directly, possess a deep conviction of His existence and providence. He placed into each of us an inner radar system that warns of danger and assures us intuitively of His care, so we will never be far from Him and will not be deprived of the knowledge of His existence.–Mother Angelica

He made our natures higher than the earth–the earth is made for us.  We are to protect it–yes. But more so, we are to protect, guard, and be custodians for other human beings. All this, for our greatest purpose. Immortality.

The Hand that formed each of us left Its imprint upon our minds and souls for He made us to His own image. The soul He breathed into this work of His Hands—our body—was imprinted with some of His love—His creative power—His strength. We reflect His eternity, for once His Will called us out of nothingness, we became immortal—our soul will never die.” –Mother Angelica

How important our human natures are when we look at it this way! How can we not do our best to protect it?

We ought to stop and think. We ought to remember that we are the custodians of God’s most beloved creation–ourselves and our neighbors, His image and likeness on earth. And not just occasionally in a ‘feel-good moment,’ but today, and every day until we are called back to Him.

If we are not doing this, if we are not trying to use our memory, intellect, and will to guard against the failings of our own human nature, then we cannot call ourselves custodians–or Christians.

So, if we see ourselves becoming what we know we should not be, we should quit hiding from the truth. We should take an honest look at ourselves and the genuine beauty of our human nature, and remember our intimate kinship with Almighty God who dwells within us.

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN HIGH AND LOW—FREE ON KINDLE Wednesday April 24 and Thursday April 25 ONLY

Cover Endorsements:

With masterful control and skillful writing, Kaye Park Hinckley boldly explores a wide range of wounded souls, ultimately finding love in the unlovable, and grace in the sufferings of a complex world. –Cassandra King Conroy, Tell Me A Story: My Life with Pat Conroy (coming in October)

Once again, Kaye Hinckley has written a truly Southern novel, deeply rooted in a small town yet universal in appeal.  Strongly wrought characters wrestle with half-understood desires, half-articulated questions, half-intended sins – with emptiness and fulfillment, love and anger, sanity and absurdity.  All in all, this is a wonderful book that struggles with the imperfections of our human condition. — Arthur Powers, author of The Book of Jotham (2012 Tuscany Novella Prize) and A Hero for the People (2014 Catholic Arts & Letters Award)

Five Star Review:

I had no idea what a Southern Gothic Novel was when I started reading “The Distance Between High and Low.” All I knew was that this novel was Kaye Park Hinckley’s newest book. I’ve read—no devoured—four of Hinckley’s previous books. I have loved each one.

“The Distance Between High and Low” is one of her best. This novel transported me to a small town in Alabama, into the bosom of an eccentric family and their peculiar neighbors, that became like family to me. I finished the book in two days—it was hard to put down. The strengths of this book are many: 1) writing that was elegant and silky-smooth 2) characters that captured and held my interest immediately and 3) a plot that kept me guessing and turning pages hungrily.

What makes this book a “Southern Gothic Novel” is its keen focus on problems common to humanity. The novel faithfully showcases some attitudes endemic to small southern towns, as well as issues that can taunt adoptees and the innate longing to connect to one’s biological parents. Interestingly, all of which I have personally experienced. There are no ghosts or hauntings, but there are plenty of flawed characters, some madness, death, and betrayal. Hope and redemption are for the taking despite all—the superglue in this story.

However, that is as much as I will say. Now you have to read it. — Meggie Daly, author of “Bead by Bead.”

Excerpt: HOBART and LITTLE SISTER

I kick at the tire on my truck and get in only to be jolted by Little Sister, grinning at me from the shotgun side. The first time I saw Little Sister on the day she was brought home to Highlow, I thought, Well, at least there’s one person besides me that Main Street will never accept. I was dead wrong. Little Sister fastened herself right in. Anybody with a heart just has to like her.

“What are you doing here?” I make my voice gruff as I can.

“I saw what you did, Hobart.” She puts a finger to her flat, coffee-colored cheek. “I saw you hit Leona.”

At once, I remember the sucked-in breath I’d heard, before and after I’d slugged the bitch.

“You didn’t see anything, Little Sister,” I say as if I’m talking to an idiot, but even I know she was never that.

“I saw it. Leona says I’m a witness,” Little Sister says proudly. “She’s not gonna take Peck from us because I told The Judge the truth.”

Which truth? But I know how to deal with Little Sister. I give her my broadest grin. “Jesus knows I never meant to hit her. Leona just pushed me too far.” Then I get ready for her sloppy kiss. She doesn’t give it, just studies me with her bright, black eyes.

Finally, she says, “I didn’t see Leona push.”

“Hell, I gave her a check. Didn’t you see that?”

“It isn’t enough.” The same tone, the same exact words Leona had used.

I give Little Sister another smile, the sweetest I can muster. “But Little Sister, I gave her almost everything I had. That is the honest to goodness truth.”

She gets right up in my face and stares into my eyes as if, this time, she’s going to kiss me. Instead, she asks, “Lord Jesus, do you think Leona wants it all?”

“Yes, Little Sister. Leona wants it all. Tell that to the Judge!”

Little Sister lays her hand over her heart as if she’s seen the flag. “I will tell the Judge the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” Immediately, she plants a wet kiss on my lips, gets out of the truck, and canters across the street to the Judge’s office.

For a while, I sit in the truck cab with a smile on my face, thinking how Truth is always right next door, but only the oddballs seem to see it.