Anna Jean Mayhew, who I think very highly of, told Danny to contact me for a possible review. If Anna Jean wants Danny and I to meet via book, I pay attention!
This slice of life Southern story tells about Junebug Hurley. He loses his family young and after moving in with his grandparents, slowly begins to learn the meaning of friendship and love. Unfortunately, he also has to learn about bigotry, race, and wars that will not be won.
This leads him to also learn about retribution.
This is not a happy book. There are no simple solutions and pleasant endings. Some of the pages include horrific descriptive images of war. Junebug's choices that he makes, and the ones that are made for him, lead him through a life that is fraught with difficulty and regret.
A fascinating story that left me feeling frustrated at the end. But if a book provides you emotions, it has done the job properly.
The Last Road Home
"This novel is sure to join the rich canon of Southern literature." --Anna Jean Mayhew, author of The Dry Grass of August
Pushcart Prize nominee Danny Johnson comes a powerful, lyrical debut
novel that explores race relations, first love, and coming-of-age in
North Carolina in the 1950s and '60s.
At eight years old,
Raeford "Junebug" Hurley has known more than his share of hard lessons.
After the sudden death of his parents, he goes to live with his
grandparents on a farm surrounded by tobacco fields and lonesome woods.
There he meets Fancy Stroud and her twin brother, Lightning, the
children of black sharecroppers on a neighboring farm. As years pass,
the friendship between Junebug and bright, compassionate Fancy takes on a
deeper intensity. Junebug, aware of all the ways in which he and Fancy
are more alike than different, habitually bucks against the casual
bigotry that surrounds them--dangerous in a community ruled by the Klan.
On the brink of adulthood, Junebug is drawn into a moneymaking
scheme that goes awry--and leaves him with a dark secret he must keep
from those he loves. And as Fancy, tired of saying yes'um and living
scared, tries to find her place in the world, Junebug embarks on a
journey that will take him through loss and war toward a hard-won
At once tender and unflinching, The Last Road Home delves deep into the gritty, violent realities of the South's turbulent past, yet evokes the universal hunger for belonging.