The Good Dream
by Donna VanLiere
Summary: From The New York Times bestselling author comes a poignant, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting novel about an unlikely path to motherhood, and of two lost souls healing each other.
1950 Tennessee, a time and place that straddles the past and present. Ivorie Walker is considered an old maid by the town (though she’s only in her early thirties) and she takes that label with good humor and a grain of salt. Ever since her parents passed away, she has hidden her loneliness behind a fierce independence and a claim of not needing anyone. But her mother’s death hit her harder than anyone suspects and Ivorie wonders if she will be alone forever.
When she realizes that someone has been stealing vegetables from her garden—a feral, dirty-faced boy who disappears into the hills—something about him haunts Ivorie. She can’t imagine what would make him desperate enough to steal and eat from her garden. But what she truly can’t imagine is what the boy faces, each day and night, in the filthy lean-to hut miles up in the hills. Who is he? How did he come to live in the hills? Where did he come from? And, more importantly, can she save him? As Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone to uncover the answers, she unleashes a firestorm in the town—a community that would rather let secrets stay secret.
I won this book via Goodreads First Reads.
This book was really good. It was a page turner and written eloquently. I thought the author captured the voice of the south very well. The narrator, Ivorie, actually reminded me a bit of Sookie Stackhouse in the way that she was southern, bubbly, and not the norm compared to the people around. I suppose she was much like Sookie in the ways that most of her friends disapprove of her choices, but she stands by them anyway.
I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen in the book, so it kept me guessing. I loved Ivorie’s personality, her big heart, and her dog, Sally. She opens her heart to a small, filthy, and abused child. This is such a tender southern story. I don’t read much southern fiction, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story. All of the characters were well described and I felt like I knew them all. The narration switches between Ivorie and the boy, and later, Ivorie’s brother Henry. When Ivorie takes in the boy, I was surprised by the hostility of the townsfolk, and even more surprised by some of the characters who were supportive.
I tend to avoid stories set in such times where women weren’t really seen as equal, because a lot of times, the women in the book disappoint me. I love to see female characters challenge the norm, which is probably why I loved Ivorie so much. While still sticking to the tight knit community feeling that I’m sure those towns had back in those days, the author manages to present a female character with guts.
I would definitely recommend this book to others, as it was well written and enjoyable, set in a believable small Tennessee town in the 1950’s. Great read!