Saturday, August 8, 2015

Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life. Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.

 Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.

In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.

My take: 3 looks

An odd combination of magical realism, historic fiction, and the paranormal, there was almost too much here for me. Any one of them would have been great for the story, and allowed the author to expand and develop that one trait and character. However, all three main characters with such strong storylines left me feeling that none of them was drawn as fully as they could have been. I admit that I have not read Wench, but I think the two are standalone stories. My suggestion to Perkins-Valdez would have been to write three books, each telling the in-depth story of one character's perspective, while introducing the others as part of the periphery. That would have been a much more satisfying read.

While I think it could have been better, I was able to read this in one day, beside the pool, under the Alabama sun. With that, it's a recommended light read.

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