Monday, June 25, 2012

A Good First Novel

If you ask me the single best thing about retirement, I would likely respond that I now have time to read as much as I want.  I love books.  I cannot remember a time when I did not own and cherish books.  My taste in books tends to change with the seasons.  During winter I read novels with more complex plots and rather heavy non-fiction.  Somehow I enjoy them more in front of a fire with a cup of tea or coffee.

But when the winter turns to spring, my reading habits lighten up along with the daylight hours.  During the transition I try to find books by authors whom I have not read.  I prefer books by southern writers and particularly favor those in North Carolina.  An added bonus is when the setting of the book is North Carolina, especially the mountains.

I found the perfect "transition" book in the form of A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash.  This is Cash's first novel and it is clear that he knows the people of western NC.

Told in the first person by three different characters, the book gives us a taste of mountain folk and their ways.  Jess is a young boy who sees things happen at home and at church...things he was never meant to see.  Adelaide who in her seventies has seen and heard the preacher and members of the church over many years. Clem, the middle-aged sheriff sets about finding the truth about a young boy's death and also about his own feelings and past griefs.

Cash develops the characters and the plot lines very well.  Each of them becomes important and the story flows nicely.  Although unsettling at times, this book is a good read.  I will look forward to more books by Wiley Cash.  You can read more about Cash and the book here.

And I'm writing this because I truly don't understand it.  I must be the only person in the country that just doesn't get it.  A video goes viral and an adult school bus monitor is seen on the video being verbally abused by teen-aged boys.  Within days she has appeared on every "news" show.  Contributions poured in (currently more than half a million dollars) along with free airline tickets, etc.

Now, I do understand that the teens were horrible.  They said horrible things and no doubt made the woman feel terrible.  But does being on the receiving end of this taunting qualify her as a hero?  Or deserving of large sums of money?  Believe me I truly do have empathy for this woman...but...wasn't she supposed to be the bus monitor?  Perhaps I totally misunderstand the concept of school bus monitor.  But I kinda thought it was an adult to monitor behavior on the bus and to stop this sort of thing before it escalates.  Would she have remained so passive were the boys yelling like that at another student?  Perhaps an adolescent girl?  If so, why bother having her as a monitor on the bus?  I'm serious here...I don't get it and if you can enlighten me (preferably without calling me a heartless stupid bitch) I honestly would like to understand.  Really.


Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the video of the monitor being bullied, but read several accounts of it. I think the woman became the recipient of such emotional largesse because bullying has become a crisis in our country. Perhaps it was a way for people to feel like that they were doing something to stop bullying by contributing $ to this person. It never occurred to me that it was actually her job to stop such behavior, and as you say, it really was. Maybe her victimization was a way for all of us to actually see how hard it is to defend oneself from such heartless monsters. I don't know. I'm really glad you raised the question.

My Mind's Eye said...

Mom says you took the words right out of her mouth. She loves everything about books, their smell, their covers, the anticipation of reading them, how they feel. AMEN you said it.

Mom added this to her list. She is always looking for something new to read.
Hugs Madi and Mom

NCmountainwoman said...

Robin - I think you are right. People want to do something to stop bullying...thus the contributions.

Taradharma said...

the book is going on my list! Thank you much for posting about it.

I watched the video...those kids were menacing and heartless. But I, too, wondered why she was so passive since she was a monitor. And what about the bus driver? Should he/she not have pulled over and ordered the kids off the bus?

I think our collective guilt and shame spurred financial donations...and our horror at what seems to have become a new normal of conduct, not only among children but adults as well.

Ms. A said...

I did watch the video of the bullying, several times and felt much the same as you. While I feel tremendous sympathy for what she had to endure, I did question why she was a monitor, since her job would be to halt this type of behavior. Perhaps with all that money, she can retire and they can find someone else to do the job. It also concerns me that the bus driver didn't stop and put the boys off the bus. (I understand that isn't what they do, now) That's sure what they used to do, when I was young. Made you think long and hard about misbehaving, as you walked home!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Agreed Carolyn, rewarded for doing a poor job monitoring.

Catherine said...

I am so glad to read this. My daughter and I were just talking about this today. I'm not excusing what the little monsters did, it was heinous, but keeping the kids on the bus in line was, I thought, the purpose of a bus monitor. It's the end of the school year and obviously she had not established any control over or rapport with the little monsters. Their behavior was inexcusable, but she was paid to be on that bus and be the adult in charge!

Arkansas Patti said...

Robin stated my mind perfectly. Perhaps all the money raised was from people who have personally felt the effects of bullying. Hopefully she will donate most of that money to organizations that will help to fight this scourge via education. Bullies grow up. I know, I married a proud former bully.

Karin said...

Just like you, I don't understand this whole situation either. As either a volunteer parent monitor or a paid staff monitor, she should have been able to keep these teens in line. I'm wondering if there are written policies and procedures for bus monitors to follow and deal with crisis situations. One would also think that the bus driver would have been authorized to pull over and refuse to continue until order had been restored. This is a major example of how the mob mentality work. Each kid alone would probably not dare, but together they display such cruelty.

I also can't believe the outpouring of generosity - not that I begrudge her this money. The young Canadian who initiated this gift thought perhaps a couple of thousand might come in, but nothing like this was expected! Thanks for voicing this question - I'm sure much discussion follows on the heels of this event.
I do hope Karen will help others who are bullied with this money.

Enjoy your books!

Maery Rose said...

I guess I should watch the video before commenting but I didn't watch it in the first place because I kind of figured that it was going to go viral and everyone would feel bad for this woman who's job is to stop bullying. What about the kids who go through this and do not have the adult years to process it or the choice of getting away from it. Is anyone doing a collection for them? I don't mean to sound unsympathetic but as the mom of a kid who was bullied and who watched adults do nothing, I think this drew attention in the wrong direction.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Oh my goodness....I saw this on the Today show. I thought the same thing!!!! I found it weird that she sat there and took the bullying...and that she received money afterwards. You are not alone. It's just weird.

The book sounds great!!! I'm trying to spend more of my time reading now. Perusing the used book stores for some goodies.

Cheryl said...

Well, I havn't watched it but purely judging it on your writings, I agree with you.
I am sad to say, it seems to be the crazy world we live in now.

All I can say is, I hope she puts the money to good use, perhaps by helping others in some way.

Could I just ask....Would you like to become our Prime Minister? :)

Cheryl said...

Well, I havn't watched it but purely judging it on your writings, I agree with you.
I am sad to say, it seems to be the crazy world we live in now.

All I can say is, I hope she puts the money to good use, perhaps by helping others in some way.

Could I just ask....Would you like to become our Prime Minister? :)

Anonymous said...

I wondered about the donations, too, as well as what the job description of "bus monitor" might be. There had to be a bus driver, too. You'd think that between the two of them, they could have handled the little bastards in a firmer manner, even if it meant stopping the bus and calling 911.

Here in Wilmington, six thugs from 15 to 20 decided they were hungry for Chinese food. They placed an order, had it delivered to a dark street where they shot the driver and went off to eat the food, then came back to get his wallet and any other valuables they might find. Unchecked bullying on the next level.

I'd still like for you to try the Ladies of Covington series about the NC mountains. Read the first one anyhow.

I see that Charlotte is going to be 103 Friday. UGH. The beach will be a little cooler. Please don't tell me you're wearing a sweater.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the book info-I'll be adding it to my list : )

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for commenting, everyone. As usual you have shared some sound insights.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Thank you for the new author. I just ordered it. The excerpts on his web page were excellent. Regards the video, this was clearly a woman out of her element. It's sad that she was even there. Jim