Unto These Hills, by Emily Sue Harvey

book coverUnto These Hills is an unforgettable novel of love, scandal, family, and roots by one of the most emotionally authentic authors of our time. Taking us into the deep South’s Tucapau Mill Hill, it introduces us to the unforgettable Sunny Acklin. Betrayed, abandoned, and violated, Sunny faces one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another. But she never loses her spirit or the memory of the love that once so richly illuminated her world. As years go by, Sunny does everything she can to make something of her life until at last an opportunity arises, one charged with promise…and undeniable risk.

Before I go any further, let me give out a warning. I picked this up on 02 January from Netgalley, where it was listed under the Christian genre. At the time of writing this review, it is still listed as such. I am reluctant, however, to label Unto These Hills as a Christian novel. The main character of Sunny Acklin calls herself a Christian and the second half of the book has her making a return to her faith but that’s it. Sexual acts outside of marriage are described in great detail. The language at times is coarse. There is child abuse and a deceit that ruins a person’s life. This is not pretty fiction. If this isn’t your idea of Christian fiction, please don’t go any further.

That being said, I kept reading. The narrative intrigued me and, having been pulled in, I wanted to see how it ended. The writing reminded me of Joyce Carol Oates’ book, We Were the Mulvaneys, which I read a long time ago. The family is disjointed and there are secrets. Sunny, coming of age in the nineteen fifties, has hopes of marrying her childhood sweetheart and attending nearby Clemson University so she can become a teacher. All that changes the night she does a simple favor for a friend.

I admit the first half of the book dragged slightly. The second half is a much easier read. Sunny is older and has grandchildren. Although there are jumps in time, the narrative flows smoother than in the first section. By now, I had also researched Tucapau online. As the changes to the town were described I could picture them. Yes, Tucapau does exist, although the town’s official name has changed. By the time I finished, I was glad I’d kept going. This was the story of a woman who kept giving everything to those around her, even when it wasn’t deserved, and who eventually received something back.

Publisher: The Story Plant

Page Count: 450

Publication Date: 01 November 2011

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I downloaded my free copy of Unto These Hills from The Story Plant on the NetGalley website. I was under no obligation to write a review.

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