When one of my book clubs chose Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin for our next read, I was only mildly thrilled. Until I read it.
This novel tells the story of Larry and Silas, two boys who grew up together but apart. Setting the distance between them is race, privilege, and the fact that Cindy Walker is dead. Larry is blamed for her death, as he is the one who was last seen with her; he had taken her on a date which he hoped would finally bring him acceptance by his peers. When she forces him to drop her off so that she can meet her real boyfriend, she never appears at 11:00 that night where they’d agreed he’d pick her up. Her disappearance causes Larry, and consequently his family, to be even more ostracized than before.
But this novel is so much more than a mystery, a murder, a plot. Tom Franklin has written of rural Mississippi in a way which made me feel I was there, living it, myself. He creates such characters that they live and breathe off of the page, making my heart ache with compassion for the sorrows and misunderstandings each person endures.
Ultimately, it is a tale of friendship. Of brotherhood. Of overcoming wounds inflicted by hate, fear and poverty. It is a powerful, wonderful novel.