Yes. Yes, I am so glad I read this one after the last book I read from this author because I loved it.
Sweet Water - Christina Baker Kline
When a grandfather she never knew bequeaths her a house and 60 acres of land in Sweetwater, Tenn., a restless young artist leaves New York to recover her past and rethink her future. Cassie Simon's mother Ellen died when Cassie was only three; raised in Boston by her grieving father, she never knew her maternal relatives. Unprepared for the thick veil of mystery that surrounds them, Cassie is especially bewildered by her brusque grandmother, whom rumor credits with hiding a terrible secret about Ellen's death. In alternating sections told from their respective points of view, Cassie and her grandmother fight their separate battles to cope with the truth about the tragedy. Kline perfectly renders each woman's voice: Cassie's, probing and often uncertain, propels the narrative and creates an appropriate level of psychological suspense; the grandmother's quavers with the weight of memory as Cassie's search forces her beyond family myth to a painful and perhaps dangerous truth.
The result is a powerful, immensely readable tale of loyalty and betrayal, family and memory, made fresh by Kline's often beautiful and always lucid prose.
Do you know why I like Christina's novels so much? Because she really ties together an older generation, and their personal story, to a younger generation trying to figure out theirs. It always starts off bumpy and it gradually smooths itself out. This book was so stinking good that I had a hard time putting it down and I'm so glad I got to be on this tour.
We start with Cassie, who finds out that she has inherited a house left to her by her grandfather on her mother's side. Cassie's mother, Ellen, died when she was three and she had been raised in New York by her father. She knows basically nothing of her mother's family and since her life in New York is at a stand still, she decides to take off for Tennessee and see if there is another path out there for her.
She gets to Tennessee and it's a really bizarre situation. All of the family aren't totally welcoming towards her, and she assumes it's because it's a first meeting. What she doesn't know, is that the family harbors a lot of secrets from Ellen's death and a death that happened a few days prior. It's done an equal job of tearing an entire family apart as well keeping it together in the worst way. They cling to each other because, while the only people who really know what happened in either death are Clyde (her grandmother) and Amory (her deceased grandfather), they all think they know and harbor secrets for years.
Until Cassie comes and unknowingly digs up the past. She's searching for family, for a connection to her mother, and to figure out why the family dynamic it is. Until then, she doesn't know how she can possibly be a part of any of it. Then enters Troy, her cousin through adoption, and things get a little dicey in the way of how society views their relationship. And his mother. Because his mother is an absolute nightmare. (Can I interject and say I wish, I so very much wish, that Cassie had given his mother the tongue lashing she needed? Because it would have been easily deserved.)
I really loved this book. To me, this is right on par with Orphan Train, which everyone knows I loved. I really adore stories that tie an older and younger generation together through family stories, good and/or bad. It's heartwarming because all of us, in some way, can relate to that. I highly encourage you to check this book out, and certainly others from Christina Baker Kline. I am very excited to read more from her in the future. The author is on Facebook and has a website, as well.