A Land More Kind Than Home - Wiley Cash

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I had no idea what this book was about when I started it. I quickly realized I never would have selected this book to read on my own and equally as quickly fell hard for the characters and the story presentation. The dust jacket referenced the similarity to Tom Franklin novels which the book club read in October (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter). I can see where both author's have a heavy, backwoods, roughness to their stories yet manage to tell an enjoyable tale

On a scale of 1 - 5:

Sex: 2

Religion: 4

Gruesome: 4

Suspense: 3

Morality: 5

Sex - there is an affair that is discovered by children although their comprehension of the entire situation is questionable

Religion - at the center of the story is a church that uses snakes in its worship, we don't actually hear any of the sermons, but the church is almost a main character in itself and there are some Bible verses discussed among other characters. Additionally many characters reflect on their personal religious beliefs or lack thereof.

Gruesome - there are a few deaths, none of them happen peacefully in their sleep except for one but it's not discovered for weeks which amps up the gruesome just a little bit

Suspense - even though I enjoyed the story I never got that "gotta find out" feeling until the last 20 pages. Around 50 pages before the end I started to wonder if this was ever going to come to an end

Morality - morals can be examined from every angle as parents deal with death, people kill people, life happens, etc.

Discussion Questions

Was the quote at the beginning inspiring or depressing? "Something has spoken to me in the night...and told me I shall die, I know not where. Saying:'[Death is] to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.' "

Before we actually met him, had you formed any opinions of Ben Hall? Did you think he was a loving husband? A good father? When he finally arrived in Chapter 7 did your opinion of him change? How did the late arrival add to or take away from the development of Ben's character?

(p. 158) "Those who don't learn from the past are bound to repeat it." Clem Barefield is not sure he agrees. Do you?

(p. 159) Things make more sense if you take fairness out of the equation. Have you ever stopped to consider what an ENORMOUS responsibility it is when someone's child goes with someone else?

(Ch. 24) What should Clem have done differently?

Discuss the meaning behind the title.

Theme Ideas

Meet at a General Store or Lunch Counter. Serve ice cream, hard candy, Moon Pies, Cracker Jack. (p. 1)

Use firefly themed plates.

Serve pan-fried pork chops, salad and bottled beer (Ch. 18) like Mrs. Barefield served Clem for dinner.

Serve roasted hot dogs (on coat hangars) with ketchup and mustard and potato chips from a bag and 2-liter Coke (p. 255) like Jess's grandpa served him the night of the funeral.