Title: The Good Dream
Author: Donna Van Liere
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Edition: HardcoverSetting: Tennessee, 1950
Source: PBS/ personal copy
Date Completed: September/2012
Rating: 4.5/5Recommend: yes
Set in 1950 back roads Tennessee, Ivorie Walker was the youngest child of the family, born years after her (6) brothers when her mother was 42. Ivorie's mom was always trying to find her a man, because at 29 she was considered an old maid. Her mother passed away just a month before Ivorie's 30th birthday and she died with a terrible regret -- one which isn't revealed until toward the end of the story.
After her mother and father are gone our protagonist works as a teacher, and tends to her garden, canning the produce and giving most away to friends and neighbors. Her dog Sally isn't quiet enough to fend off her loneliness she sometimes feels. She has a big heart and plenty of love to spread around. When a feral young boy is found foraging for food in her garden, she tries to befriend him. She quickly sees signs of abuse and neglect on the boy who has been living in the hills--- his body has fresh scars. Who is responsible and who and where is his family? She is determined to rescue the boy who she learns later was named Peter.
For 1950, Ivorie was a strong, independent woman determined to do the right thing for this boy. I can't say this novel is a light read as the subject matter is painful at times. It's the type of story that is bound to bring a tear or two to the eyes of some readers. It's one of those books that you'll want to read in one sitting once you begin. The author makes the story flow perfectly and even throws in a surprise for the reader toward the end about the regret Ivorie's mother took to her grave. The story is believable and seems realistic of how I imagined small town life in the South to be like at that time. If I had one minor complaint, it was that to me it seemed as if the feral boy, came around rather quickly in learning to trust Ivorie considering all he had been though. Despite that it's a wonderful, hopeful story and a book that is worth reading.
If you are not familiar with this author, a few of her other books which I enjoyed in previous years were, The Christmas Shoes, which was also a movie, The Christmas Secret and The Christmas Hope.