Book Review: "Bent Road" by Lori Roy

Summary from For twenty years, Celia Scott has watched her husband, Arthur, hide from the secrets surrounding his sister Eve's death. As a young man, Arthur fled his small Kansas hometown, moved to Detroit, married Celia, and never looked back. But when the 1967 riots frighten him even more than his past, he convinces Celia to pack up their family and return to the road he grew up on, Bent Road, and that same small town where Eve mysteriously died.

While Arthur and their oldest daughter slip easily into rural life, Celia and the two younger children struggle to fit in. Daniel, the only son, is counting on Kansas to make a man of him since Detroit damn sure didn't. Eve-ee, the youngest and small for her age, hopes that in Kansas she will finally grow. Celia grapples with loneliness and the brutality of life and death on a farm.

And then a local girl disappears, catapulting the family headlong into a dead man's curve...

On Bent Road, a battered red truck cruises ominously along the prairie; a lonely little girl dresses in her dead aunt's clothes; a boy hefts his father's rifle in search of a target; a mother realizes she no longer knows how to protect her children. It is a place where people learn: Sometimes killing is the kindest way.

I have been reading a lot of books that I normally wouldn't pick up. Most have been interesting and unique reads and I'm glad to add this book to the list. It's been characterized as a literary suspense read which I suppose is fairly accurate being that I don't believe I've ever read a book in that genre before.

Throughout the book I was spellbound by the characters and the mystery that surrounded them. There's a secret that only a few people know but it's clearly affected everyone in the surrounding areas. Because the secret is never revealed, this has lead to miscommunication and harmed relationships throughout the years. It's really a sad story and it doesn't have a happy ending. It's not a dark tale but there is a sense of gloom over the story.

I was horrified at how the church and it's leaders were portrayed in this story. I know that some extremely conservative groups frown on divorce no matter what the circumstance. However is there is evidence of a man beating his wife, she needs to get out of that situation immediately and leave him for good. it was appalling to see the leaders of the church tell Ruth that she needed to stay where she was because it was her duty as a wife and they wouldn't off her help either.

Overall this was an excellent read. I find this hard to believe that this is Roy's debut novel as she brilliantly brought this story to life. It's not a light read so I wouldn't recommend this for the beach. However, if you're in the mood for a deeper type of suspense story that character driven, this is the book for you.

Bent Road by Lori Roy is published by Dutton (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


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