3 out of 4 stars
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Beloved Mother by Laura Hunter is a historical fiction novel, set in the early 1900s, that tells the stories of three women, Mona Parsons, a.k.a Two Tears or Granny Slocomb or Kee Granny, her youngest sister, Anna Parsons, and Anna's daughter, Lily Marie Goodman. In this book, we follow the growth of the main characters from childhood. The story starts with Mona living with her parents in Covington, Virginia, and it further follows her adventures as she marries a man much older than her at the age of thirteen. She and her husband, Jackson Slocomb, travel to Carolina, where she is rescued from her maltreatment at the hands of Jackson and taken in by Tall Corn and "the Beloved Mother."
Even though the book includes a lot of themes, like self-discovery, forgiveness, religion, love, hate, abortion, adultery, and religion, I see Beloved Mother as a plotless book, as it has no central theme. However, the author makes the story work for me with the emotions the story evoked and its appealing characters. I liked that a lot of time was spent building the characters in the story, as I knew virtually everything there was to know about them and connected to most of them deeply. This helped me feel exactly what they felt at different points of the story.
Another thing I enjoyed in the book was how well the author depicted the early 1900s. The characters' mode of dressing, coal mining activities, the kind of cars used, the poor state of medical care, a lack of electricity, and a few telephones gave an accurate feel of what that era would have been like. The author also used misspelled words to mimic different characters' accents. I was also impressed by the writing style used in the story. It was very descriptive and heavy on metaphors, which helped me understand the story and the characters' feelings much better.
There were some drawbacks in the story. The first one being the slow pace of the story. This really affected my reading, as it made the book boring at times. There were rarely any suspenseful moments in the book besides when there was a murder. While flashbacks were important in character development, a lot of time was spent flashing back to past events. Even though the story was well organized and I could easily differentiate between flashbacks and the present time, I didn't see the purpose of some of the flashbacks. Besides these two issues, there was nothing else I disliked about the book. Beloved Mother was remarkably well edited, as I didn't spot a single grammatical or typographical error throughout the book.
Overall, Beloved Mother was a very interesting read. I got to learn a lot of important life lessons by following the characters' lives, especially about self-forgiveness. The exploration of the Cherokee culture was also another interesting and educative part of the book. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. While the book was well executed, the slow pace and numerous flashbacks made the book less perfect for me. However, I would implore fans of historical fiction and coming of age stories to join Mona, Anna, and Lily on their adventures in this book. The book can also be read by a younger audience, as there was no use of strong language and no violence throughout the book.
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