Today’s First Line Friday is one where I met the author AND artist of the cover design last year!
Lakin, West Virginia
The place was as quiet as it ever got in the hours around midnight, with only occasional screams or sobs from the cells down the corridor to disturb his contemplation. Somewhere, perhaps on another floor of the building, someone was singing.
From New York Times bestselling author Sharyn McCrumb comes a finely wrought novel set in nineteenth-century West Virginia, based on the true story of one of the strangest murder trials in American history—the case of the Greenbrier Ghost.
Lakin, West Virginia, 1930
Following a suicide attempt and consigned to a segregated insane asylum, attorney James P. D. Gardner finds himself under the care of Dr. James Boozer. Fresh out of medical school, Dr. Boozer is eager to try the new talking cure for insanity, and encourages his elderly patient to reminisce about his experiences as the first black attorney to practice law in nineteenth-century West Virginia. Gardner’s most memorable case was the one in which he helped to defend a white man on trial for the murder of his young bride—a case that the prosecution based on the testimony of a ghost.
Greenbrier, West Virginia, 1897
Beautiful, willful Zona Heaster has always lived in the mountains of West Virginia. Despite her mother’s misgivings, Zona marries Erasmus Trout Shue, the handsome blacksmith who has recently come to Greenbrier County. After weeks of silence from the newlyweds, riders come to the Heasters’ place to tell them that Zona has died from a fall, attributed to a recent illness. Mary Jane is determined to get justice for her daughter. A month after the funeral, she informs the county prosecutor that Zona’s ghost appeared to her, saying that she had been murdered. An autopsy, ordered by the reluctant prosecutor, confirms her claim.
The Greenbrier Ghost is renowned in American folklore, but Sharyn McCrumb is the first author to look beneath the legend to unearth the facts. Using a century of genealogical material and other historical documents, McCrumb reveals new information about the story and brings to life the personalities in the trial: the prosecutor, a former Confederate cavalryman; the defense attorney, a pro-Union bridgeburner, who nevertheless had owned slaves; and the mother of the murdered woman, who doggedly sticks to her ghost story—all seen through the eyes of a young black lawyer on the cusp of a new century, with his own tragedies yet to come.
With its unique blend of masterful research and mesmerizing folklore, illuminating the story’s fascinating and complex characters, The Unquiet Grave confirms Sharyn McCrumb’s place among the finest Southern writers at work today.
Author: Amy Bleuel
Published: September 5, 2017
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: May 11-19, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
For fans of PostSecret, Humans of New York, and If You Feel Too Much, this collection from suicide-awareness organization Project Semicolon features stories and photos from those struggling with mental illness.
Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them, often alongside stories of hardship, growth, and rebirth.
Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who struggle with mental illness and those who support them. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.
Learn more about the project at www.projectsemicolon.com.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I feel reading and reviewing Project Semicolon this month was in perfect timing.
Amy Bleuel started Project Semicolon in 2013 to give hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. The semicolon is used because in literature it is intended to continue a sentence versus ending it. Using the semicolon, you show that you are choosing to continue on despite your situation. This is a symbol with so much meaning!
Project Semicolon is a non-fiction book that is comprised of many individual stories in their own words. These stories range from a few sentences to several pages. Some stories give details of their lives, some just touch on issues. It does begin with a disclaimer/trigger warning that these stories could affect you if you have suffered and advises to stop reading if this occurs. At the end of the book is various organizations’ information on who to contact if you feel you need assistance.
Project Semicolon is a book you do not have to read in its entirety, but you should and I did. It is a difficult read and one I took in steps to read. You can feel the anguish that all the authors have in sharing their stories. Some of the stories are ‘In Memoriam’, with those sharing stories after losing someone to suicide. I recommended reading all of Project Semicolon as the stories that touched me the most were in the second half of the book. The stories that affected me the most were:
Teresa S (page 256)
Hayleigh H (page 280)
Kristie C (Page 307)
All were In Memoriam stories
In addition to the stories shared, there are photos of the semicolon tattoo in its various forms throughout the book that are the storytellers’ own tattoos. That gives each story an even more personal touch. I would have liked more details in some of the stories: Some are so brief we don’t learn much about the person’s story. Some stories felt incomplete (which they of course could be as they may still be facing their monsters) and some felt impersonal and like an essay. I would have liked to learned more on their journeys and what helped them succeed.
Project Semicolon does also include Amy’s story in her own words. Despite starting Project Semicolon, Amy lost her battle with these issues on March 23, 2017 at the age of 31. Her legacy continues as Project Semicolon is still around helping those who need it today. Here is an article I found that address Amy’s death and how complex suicide prevention is.
Amy’s story is here in her own words.
Project Semicolon is definitely worth a read and is a great organization that is devoted to helping others overcome their battles they face. If you feel you need help please get it. You ARE worth it and your story isn’t over!
Author: M. P. Kozlowsky
Published: October 11, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
Being human is her greatest strength.
Sixteen-year-old Frost understands why she’s spent her entire life in an abandoned apartment building. The ruined streets below are hunting grounds for rogue robots and Eaters.
She understands why she’s never met a human besides her father. She even understands why he forbids her to look for medicine for her dying pet. But the thing is, it’s not her real father giving the orders…
It’s his memories.
Before he died, Frost’s father uploaded his consciousness into their robot servant. But the technology malfunctioned, and now her father fades in and out. So when Frost learns that there might be medicine on the other side of the ravaged city, she embarks on a dangerous journey to save the one living creature she loves.
With only a robot as a companion, Frost must face terrors of all sorts, from outrunning the vicious Eaters…to talking to the first boy she’s ever set eyes on. But can a girl who’s only seen the world through books and dusty windows survive on her own? Or will her first journey from home be her last?
Another zombie book! And of course I didn’t realize there were zombies till I got about halfway through. But this one is an easy 5 stars. I couldn’t put it down! It never lagged, there wasn’t any of that pretentious fluff that authors throw in to prove what amazing writers they are. Frost is a character that you can’t help but love and care about. She’s sheltered and innocent but with that streak of rebellion that is based out of her love for others. She’s willing to sacrifice everything for her best friend. She refuses to be influenced by the skepticism from Flynn and his father, all while being confronted by an attraction to Flynn. In a world of evil, she never loses faith. And the end is a doozy! I’ll admit that I didn’t see it coming and I loved it!! I absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good action book or an apocalyptic thriller. And this is for teens and adults alike.