HALLEY, by Faye Gibbons, NewSouth Books, 2014
Halley is 14. She was born at the wrong time in the wrong place, during the depths of the Depression in a struggling mountain community in north Georgia. That’s just the setting for this gritty novel.
As if the times are not punishing enough, when Halley’s beloved father dies suddenly, she and her mother and younger brother Robbie are forced to move in with her hell fire and brimstone preacher grandfather, Franklin. Franklin never liked Halley’s father and takes that dislike out on his daughter and her children. He thumps his Bible and quotes Scripture to suit his own purposes, and those purposes turn the women of his family into powerless servants.
Whatever Halley prizes, her grandfather seems determined to hold hostage or take away from her. Halley believes an education will give her control over her own life and be a salvation for her family. Her wily grandfather knows the power of education which is the very reason he stands in her way like a mile high wall of bricks. Women of today will applaud Halley’s stubbornness—or so it was considered then.
This book offers so many springboards for discussion, I hardly know where to begin.Gender roles. Respect for elders. Faith issues. Forgiveness. Readers at your house will be thinking, discussing, and tapping into some surprising wells of emotion inside themselves.
Author Faye Gibbons is a master story teller. It will be a long time before you forget Halley.