Author ~ Sherri Wood Emmons
Publisher ~ Kensington
Publication date ~ February 1, 2011
When seven-year-old Bethany meets her six-year-old cousin Reana Mae, it's the beginning of a kinship of misfits that saves both from a bone-deep loneliness. Every summer, Bethany and her family leave Indianapolis for West Virginia's Coal River Valley. For Bethany's mother, the trips are a reminder of the coalmines and grinding poverty of her childhood, of a place she'd hoped to escape. But her loving relatives, and Bethany's friendship with Reana Mae, keep them coming back.
But as Bethany grows older, she realizes that life in this small, close-knit community is not as simple as she once thought. . .that the riverside cabins that hold so much of her family's history also teem with scandalous whispers. . .and that those closest to her harbor unimaginable secrets. Amid the dense woods and quiet beauty of the valley, these secrets are coming to light at last, with a force devastating enough to shatter lives, faith, and the bond that Bethany once thought would last forever.
Spanning four decades, Sherri Wood Emmons' debut is a haunting, captivating novel about the unexpected, sometimes shocking events that thrust us into adulthood--and the connections that keep us tethered, always, to our pasts.
My thoughts ~
Bethany, a seven year old girl from Indianapolis begins to spend her summers with her parents, sisters, and extended family at the Coal River in West Virginia. While the life here is much different from what she is used to, she quickly feels both at peace and at home here, and forms a tight, sisterly bond with her six year old cousin, Reana Mae. There is a simpleness here on the River that Bethy finds comforting. Though they may not have the "riches" that Bethy has at home, they have the "riches" of love, family, and a place to always call home.
As the years go on, things begin to change. People begin to change. And just maybe, things on the Coal River aren't nearly as perfect as Bethy thinks. The sweet innocence of their summers begin to take on a dark, impossible-to-fathom identity that will rock this town and this extended family to its core. It will bring to the surface memories that this family would rather leave buried in the past. It will shatter lives in a way that no one could ever imagine. But a larger question remains - will it bring Bethy and Reana Mae closer than they've ever been, or will it turn them into bitter enemies with no hope of ever finding that deep, close friendship they shared when they were younger?
From page one, you will become entrenched in the lives of Bethy, Reana Mae and the rest of their family. Your heart will ache for their past sufferings, and your mind will scream at them for the situations they now find themselves in. Can this current generation overcome the sins of those that came before them? Or are they destined to repeat those same mistakes? Will lies continue to be told? Will the prayers finally be answered? If you only read one book in 2011, make sure it is Prayers and Lies. The raw emotion, the angst of the teenage years, the desire to be wanted, needed, and loved, the hatred, the lies, the secrets, the pain, the joy and the yearnings of Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae will take hold of your heart from the very first page and never let go. An amazing story of love, friendship, and the test of time that will stay will you long after you turn the last page.
FTC Full Disclosure ~ I received this book from the publisher in the hopes that I would review it.