2013-02-21 / Columns

Off the Bookshelf

Prayers and Lies
By Maralee Kalianoff

“Prayers and Lies” is a first novel by Sherri Wood Emmons. The story is told through the eyes of sevenyear old Bethany Wylie. Bethany and her three older sisters appear to live a relatively normal life in Indianapolis, Ind.

At age seven, Bethany doesn’t feel like her life is normal. Her two oldest sisters, Nancy and Melinda, ignore her and are so much older they have nothing in common with her. Tracy, the sister who shares Bethany’s room and is closest to her in age, seems to hate her, and Bethany, for the most part, is terrified of her.

Bethany lives for summer vacations when her mom and sisters spend those months in the Coal River Valley area of rural West Virginia.Although their parents both grew up there, it is Bethany’s father who insists his family spend summers in the Valley with his extended family, even though he seldom spends much time there since he has to work.

Bethany’s sisters dread spending their summers away from home, trapped in “hillbilly” territory so distant from their friends in Indianapolis. Bethany, on the other hand, can’t wait for summer. The slower, more relaxed way of life along the river in the Coal River Valley suits her just fine. She loves spending the summer months with her very best friend, her six-year-old cousin, Reana Mae. Bethany has always felt closer to Reana than any of her sisters, and as they grow up together, their bond becomes even closer.

“Prayers and Lies” covers a span of about 10 years; the years in which Bethany and Reana reach maturity. In those 10 years they each grow and develop into totally different individuals and yet somehow they continue to remain close. Family secrets and circumstances influence both of them, but the bond between them seems to survive everything that comes their way.

“Prayers and Lies” is a book that holds your interest from beginning to end. As secrets unravel, you are drawn deeper and deeper into the story.

Cathy Lamb, one of my very favorite authors, had this to say about Emmons’ premier novel: “When I was reading ‘Prayers and Lies,’ the voice was so genuine, so sincere, I felt like Bethany was standing right before me, barefoot, earnestly telling me her story, alternately laughing, crying, wondering, confused and scared. I was on the edge of my seat, listening, every scene coming in to full, bright, Technicolor detail as one prayer was heard, one lie was shattered, one family’s raw, haunting life laid bare. I loved it.”

Like Cathy, I loved it, too.

* * * * * *

If a book you are looking for is not available at the Harry L. Petrie Library, Librarian Carla Frison will be happy to obtain it from the North Dakota State Library for you. If you return the book to the State Library in Bismarck within the allotted time, there is no charge. The staff can return it by mail but will have to charge you for postage.

Hours for the library in Linton are Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed on Tuesdays, 2-5 p.m. on Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and 2-5 p.m. on Friday. Friends of the Library meets every first Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Library. Everyone is welcome.

To contact Maralee, e-mail her: bonus73@hotmail.com and put Off the Bookshelf in the subject line.

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