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The Line That Held Us

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From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again. When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s k From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again. When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.


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From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again. When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s k From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again. When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

30 review for The Line That Held Us

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Eagerly anticipated, since first whisper of its impending release—no pressure or anything Mr. Joy—THE LINE THAT HELD US turned out to be one of those elusive novels, capable of stealing the words from my mouth. Fiddling with my feelings. Consuming my cortex. Drying up the drivel that flows easily from brain to restless fingers following that final page. It’s taken darn near two months and one read through, followed by a second, only a few weeks later, to get to here—a place where I feel like I c Eagerly anticipated, since first whisper of its impending release—no pressure or anything Mr. Joy—THE LINE THAT HELD US turned out to be one of those elusive novels, capable of stealing the words from my mouth. Fiddling with my feelings. Consuming my cortex. Drying up the drivel that flows easily from brain to restless fingers following that final page. It’s taken darn near two months and one read through, followed by a second, only a few weeks later, to get to here—a place where I feel like I can piece together some semblance of thought. Why? Before you read further into things than you should, it’s not from the cloying and often weighty feeling of disappointment. No, nothing close to that. Indecisiveness might be the better descriptor. Or more pointedly, the sheer inability on my part to surrender to that ending for fear I somehow got it wrong. More on that later though; let me step back and start from the beginning. A relatively simple story in retrospect, although told with an immense amount of grit and Joy’s own brand of beauty (yes, you read that right; there’s almost an elegance to the way he strings words together), THE LINE THAT HELD US is a wholly immersive experience. A chance to live life in a small backwoods town where everyone knows everyone. Where a person like Dwayne Brewer lets blinding rage and the need for revenge drive his misdeeds. David Joy doesn’t waste any time, he delves right in—dropping his reader in the woods to be the sole witness of an accidental shooting. When Darl Moody sets his sights and pulls that trigger, it isn’t a wild pig that loses his life, it’s none other than Dwayne’s younger brother, Sissy Brewer. Crawling around the woods in low-light probably isn’t a smart idea in hindsight, but if you’re thieving ginseng off private property, you want to be stealthy about it. It’s a tug of war. A back and forth struggle. A moral dilemma to ponder—is the right thing to stand up and admit your wrongdoings, damn the repercussions, or attempt to bury that stifling guilt down somewhere deep, along with the body? Any guesses what decision Darl makes? The heart of the story is the exploration of that imaginary line found due north on our moral compass and the very things that might inspire a person to toe or even take a mighty step over it: those we love. You would think by now—three books deep—I wouldn’t still be this taken with the author’s style, but nevertheless, I’m smitten. The flow of his words juxtaposed with the grit and grime of his plotting, has made for yet another memorable read. But, before jumping in with the expectation of stellar writing, and a rag to wipe the dirt off your face, prepare yourself. The level of gore found within these pages just might be enough to rattle a queasy stomach. From the perspective of a reader who frequently dabbles in dark reads, the violence doesn't feel like it's done for shock value, nor the aftermath, which—strangely enough—worked in some ways to humanize the devious. Don't get me wrong, it's incredibly morbid and almost beyond words, but there's some weird level of nurturing there. And now that ending. A few days taken to mull over the meaning of those final pages became a few weeks—a reread ending the standoff. At this moment, I find myself waffling somewhere between a finale that’s much too simple and above my philosophical pay grade. While my love-obsessed heart found satisfaction in how things played out for two of the pivotal characters, I can’t shy away from the fact that the culmination felt a tad weak in comparison to the bulk of the novel. My takeaway: every so often mercy is granted at the most unexpected times, by the least likely people—sometimes even without our knowledge. *Thank you to G.P. Putnam for providing a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts. And a BIG thank you to Mr. Joy for the thought-provoking read. Not only did this novel demand two reads from me, but it sparked a lively talk-through with my favorite pessimistic confidant and non-reader—my hubby. Somehow, the process of laying out a storyline for him and getting his frank feedback, works to align the thoughts in my own head.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    4.5 stars "In that moment, he knew that he was standing in the midst of something that would never be forgotten, something he would carry from this place and bear the rest of his life. There was no turning back. That single certainty consumed him." Darl Moody makes a series of bad decisions. He decides to hunt out of season on another man's land. He is hunting for many reasons: he loves hunting, he helps put food on his sister's table, and he desperately wants to get that buck which has eluded him 4.5 stars "In that moment, he knew that he was standing in the midst of something that would never be forgotten, something he would carry from this place and bear the rest of his life. There was no turning back. That single certainty consumed him." Darl Moody makes a series of bad decisions. He decides to hunt out of season on another man's land. He is hunting for many reasons: he loves hunting, he helps put food on his sister's table, and he desperately wants to get that buck which has eluded him for years. But he makes a horribly tragic mistake- he shoots a man. He knows the man he has shot, Carol "Sissy" Brewer, who was attempting to steal some ginseng at the time he was shot. Brewer comes from a violent family, and Darl, desperate and worried about the consequences of his actions, calls his best friend, Calvin Hooper to help him. Darl and Calvin have been best friends their entire lives, Calvin cannot say no when his friend needs him the most. "The only reason we're here is because of the ones we loved. That's the line that held us." Dwayne Brewer goes looking for his brother, Carol, when he fails to show up. Dwayne is not one to let things lie and will not back down until he knows what happened to his brother. Eventually, he learns the truth and goes on a collision course of vengeance and revenge. His brother was the one good thing in his life, the one person he loved. Dwayne will not stop until he makes everyone involved pay for what was taken from him. Dwayne is a mountain of a man who reads the bible, quotes bible verses and firmly believes in "an eye for an eye." "Things had a way of never leaving these mountains. Stories took root like everything else. He was a part of one now, part of a story that would never be forgotten, and that made bearing the truth all the more heavy." An accidental shooting in the woods and the deadly aftermath could be a very sad yet simple tale - but not in the hands of David Joy. In the pages of "The Line that held us", Joy has created a beautifully written gritty novel set in Appalachia. This book is violent, heart breaking and gut wrenching. The characters in this book are struggling - struggling with the consequences of their actions, struggling with poverty, struggling with loss, struggling with grief, struggling with keeping secrets, struggling with doing the right thing and struggling to survive. Love, loyalty, friendship, rage, loss, despair, and revenge are all combined and laid bare. "...that some people were born too soft to bear the teeth of this world. There was no place for weakness in a world like this. Survival was so often a matter of meanness." I was glued to the pages and found myself highlighting large portions of this book as the writing was eloquent and beautiful. The characters in this book are fully developed. Love them or hate them, we know as a reader what makes each tick, what motivates them, and what they have to lose (if anything). This book won’t be for everyone. There are some very disturbing scenes, but if you can stomach the raw and gruesome sections, you might just be amazed at the vivid and beautiful writing. I had a clear picture in my mind of the characters and the setting the entire time I was reading almost as if I were watching a movie. One can almost feel the feelings of loss, desperation, rage and fear dripping off the pages. This book is heavy. It's full of raw emotion and I wanted to go hug a puppy after reading this book to clear away some of the gloom. This book is beautifully tragic. The Line that Held us is beautifully written, well thought out, perfectly paced and hard to put down. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Penguin book Putnam and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    4.5 stars “Every choice held consequence.” The Line that Held Us is a vicious, violent, dark and dirty novel about the consequences stemming from an accidental shooting deep in the Appalachian mountains. While out hunting one evening, Darl Moody makes a kill that has jarring consequences. He thought he shot a wild boar but instead shot a man. Darl decides not to report the incident and calls on his best friend, Calvin Hooper, to help him bury the body. The aftermath of this decision results in 4.5 stars “Every choice held consequence.” The Line that Held Us is a vicious, violent, dark and dirty novel about the consequences stemming from an accidental shooting deep in the Appalachian mountains. While out hunting one evening, Darl Moody makes a kill that has jarring consequences. He thought he shot a wild boar but instead shot a man. Darl decides not to report the incident and calls on his best friend, Calvin Hooper, to help him bury the body. The aftermath of this decision results in a gruesome battle with the dead man’s brother, Dwayne Brewer. David Joy takes a violent accident and turns it into an all-out war for survival. It’s a gruesome, honest, and shattering story that left me, at times, feeling stuck in the thick, dark atmosphere of this small community. This is an ugly, gritty story that I was forced to put down several times--at times, it was just too much. While the plot is simple, the characters are complex. There are quiet moments interrupted by the sheer brutality of Dwayne's character. It’s almost like a tornado comes in and swipes away peace in the blink of an eye. Tension gradually builds to the point of implosion; I honestly thought I was going to pass out when I got to the ending as it was quite stressful to read! I found this a thought-provoking, uncomfortable read that left me nearly shattered in the end. Beware: The Line that Held Us is not for the faint of heart! “Some people were born too soft to bear the teeth of this world. There was no place for weakness in a world like this. Survival was so often a matter of meanness.” I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and G.P. Putnam's Sons in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars. After reading David Joy's newest novel, I've come to the conclusion that writers like him and Michael Farris Smith deserve their own sub-genre of fiction, one that I'll call "bleak-tion." This sub-genre would contain beautifully written books in which a feeling of despair or doom is quite pervasive, and you know that something monumentally, well, bleak is going to happen. (See Joy's The Weight of This World or Smith's Desperation Road or The Fighter .) I don I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars. After reading David Joy's newest novel, I've come to the conclusion that writers like him and Michael Farris Smith deserve their own sub-genre of fiction, one that I'll call "bleak-tion." This sub-genre would contain beautifully written books in which a feeling of despair or doom is quite pervasive, and you know that something monumentally, well, bleak is going to happen. (See Joy's The Weight of This World or Smith's Desperation Road or The Fighter .) I don't mean this in a disparaging way, but you shouldn't read these novels in search of a belly laugh. In the latest addition to the world of bleak-tion, The Line That Held Us , Darl Moody is a country boy who may not have a ton of ambition, but he has taken good care of his mother as well as his married sister and her family since the death of his father a few years before. He's never done anything worse than drink one (or two) too many, except perhaps try and hunt a deer before the season officially opens. When he's convinced he has seen a colossal buck roaming another man's land, he needs to find it. He knows that poaching is wrong, and he knows it's even worse when you're hunting off the land of a man who is out of town for his sister's funeral, but this buck could provide enough for him and his family to eat. Although the deer proves elusive, he spots a wild hog and takes aim. It's not a hog he has killed, however; it's Carol "Sissy" Brewer, the slower, gentler son of the brash, violent Brewer family. Carol was hunting ginseng on the farm when he was shot. Darl doesn't know what to do, so he turns to the only person he has ever been able to count on, his best friend since childhood, Calvin Hooper. Despite Calvin's misgivings, he agrees to help Darl bury Carol, and the two vow never to tell anyone what happened that night, which becomes progressively harder as they become increasingly haunted by the events of that evening. When Carol's older brother Dwayne comes looking for him, he knows right away something bad has happened, and he will leave no stone unturned until he finds what happened to him, and whom shall be held responsible. This determination to uncover the mystery of his brother's disappearance sets him on a collision course with Darl and Calvin, and threatens to upend all of their lives. Dwayne believes in an eye for an eye, and he will exact his revenge, no matter how many people get hurt in the process. Needless to say, this isn't a happy read, but it is powerful—even gut-wrenching at times—and you probably can predict how the story will unfold. But Joy is an exceptional storyteller, and even the commonplace becomes more fascinating when seen through his lens. He so accurately evokes the mounting sense of dread, the fear, the unhingedness that his characters feel, and he draws you into a story which only rarely has moments of lightness. Fair warning: this is a book with some graphically depicted violence (mostly toward humans and once toward an animal) and some pretty detailed descriptions of the process a body goes through once a person's life ends. (It made for a somewhat squeamish read on my red-eye flight, I must tell you.) If those things are triggers for you, you'll probably want to pass this one by. You may want to have a more lighthearted novel at the ready after you finish The Line That Held Us , but you should definitely read this, if only to see a master of "bleak-tion" at work once again. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html. NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kaceey

    A thought provoking gem of a read! This book has been cleverly hiding on my shelf for months. I’d even noticed many of my friends had given fabulous reviews for it. And still, there it sat. What was I waiting for? First page to the last, it was off and running at full-speed. You’ll experience the full spectrum of emotions on your journey through this read. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it’s beautifully written. What starts as a tragic accident soon becomes a desperate struggle to protect those you lov A thought provoking gem of a read! This book has been cleverly hiding on my shelf for months. I’d even noticed many of my friends had given fabulous reviews for it. And still, there it sat. What was I waiting for? First page to the last, it was off and running at full-speed. You’ll experience the full spectrum of emotions on your journey through this read. It’s dark, it’s gritty and it’s beautifully written. What starts as a tragic accident soon becomes a desperate struggle to protect those you love, and ultimately to live with the consequences of your decisions. What are the priorities in your life that guide you? Your friends, your family? Or how about simply your freedom? So, if you were pressed and had to make a choice….could you? This was my first read from David Joy. I’ll definitely be looking back for his previous novels and keeping him on my radar for all future releases. This is absolutely going onto my favorites shelf. I’ll say it again. What was I waiting for! Can’t recommend this book enough. If you’re searching for something just a little deeper that will have you looking in the mirror, questioning your own values, read on! And enjoy! Highly recommend! Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and David Joy for an ARC to read and review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    David Joy is now one of my favorite authors. I first read his Where all the Light Tends to Go which I enjoyed tremendously. The Line That Held Us has exceeded my expectations. David Joy is one of the finest writers out there! Set in Appalachia we meet Darl Moody hunting out of season on another’s property. He makes the biggest mistake of his life when accidentally shooting Sissy, the younger brother of the meanest and most terrifying giant of a man, Dwayne Brewer. Darl Moody understands that he h David Joy is now one of my favorite authors. I first read his Where all the Light Tends to Go which I enjoyed tremendously. The Line That Held Us has exceeded my expectations. David Joy is one of the finest writers out there! Set in Appalachia we meet Darl Moody hunting out of season on another’s property. He makes the biggest mistake of his life when accidentally shooting Sissy, the younger brother of the meanest and most terrifying giant of a man, Dwayne Brewer. Darl Moody understands that he has no choice but to cover up the accident and calls his best friend Calvin Hooper to help. This book is all about the consequences of Darl’s actions. Violent, graphically dark, and gruesome, but also filled with beautiful prose. How David Joy brings violence and beauty together is amazing! This is also about loyalty and friendship, family and brotherly love. Joy’s writing has you liking both the good and bad guys in his novel. That’s hard to do. This book is also filled with prose about birds and nature. So much so that I have included some wonderful passages: “Calvin stood to the side and watched a MURDER OF CROWS strut through the churchyard below.” “Across the road, a MURMURATION OF STARLINGS rose like a bruise from yellowed field. The birds twisted into the sky, flashed in blooms of black, then disappeared as quickly as they’d shown. Their path blinked against the mountainside...” “...WAKES OF BIRDS came circling over the ridgeline in orbits of ten or twelve and lit on every limb there was to be had...” “...birds appeared like some BLACK-WINGED CRUCIFIXTION roosted in the trees.” “...the BROOD OF HENS dashing to the back of the house, his footsteps crunching dead grass.” It doesn’t matter where you live to enjoy this Southern lit genre. I’m from Boston and find it’s now one of my favorite go-tos. Read this book. You will never forget it beauty. 5 out of 5 stars Many thanks to NetGalley, PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, and the terrific David Joy for the ARC.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angela M

    Southern noir, grit lit - whatever you want to call it, it’s dark and gruesome, so gruesome, filled with grit, blood and rage. It’s the kind of book you just can’t put down even though it’s at times predictable and gross, because there’s a lot more here - about family, friendship, about how the misery of the past can shape who you are sometimes. It’s the kind of book I can read only occasionally. This one had some particularly gruesome depictions, so it took me longer to read than I thought it w Southern noir, grit lit - whatever you want to call it, it’s dark and gruesome, so gruesome, filled with grit, blood and rage. It’s the kind of book you just can’t put down even though it’s at times predictable and gross, because there’s a lot more here - about family, friendship, about how the misery of the past can shape who you are sometimes. It’s the kind of book I can read only occasionally. This one had some particularly gruesome depictions, so it took me longer to read than I thought it would given that it’s not a long book. I have to admit that I skimmed and passed over some passages that left me sick to my stomach. For Darl Moody, it was an accident waiting to happen as he’s hunting on land that is not his in the almost darkness of evening. The accident does happen when he shoots a man, he thought was a boar. The inevitable when he discovers who the man was - he has to get rid of the body before Dwayne Brewer finds out his brother Sissy was shot. His best friend Calvin Hooper is drawn into the plan to cover up the death by helping Darl bury the body. Dwayne Brewer, one mean sob, full of rage even before he finds out what happened to his brother, is out of his mind. Not unexpectedly, we see his wrath acted out on these two men as well as Angie, the woman that Calvin loves. This ended up being just too much for me to take at times . It ended up at three stars for me - four stars for the story and two stars for the utterly repulsive parts which felt over the top to me. There are many positives reviews, I suspect by reviewers with stronger stomachs who were able to perhaps focus more on the story than I was. I received an advanced copy of this book from G.P. Putnam’s Sons through Edelweiss.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    From the first second we heard about this book..my partner in crime and I went into full fangirling mode...…..Then it went up on Netgalley. We plotted ways to beg for it. We checked Netgalley a thousand times a day multiple times. The book gods were good to us one day and someone messed up and let us get approved. Thank you!!! See David Joy is an author that has caught us by our dark little dried up hearts. It's even to the point where we've started going to his site and seeing what he is read From the first second we heard about this book..my partner in crime and I went into full fangirling mode...…..Then it went up on Netgalley. We plotted ways to beg for it. We checked Netgalley a thousand times a day multiple times. The book gods were good to us one day and someone messed up and let us get approved. Thank you!!! See David Joy is an author that has caught us by our dark little dried up hearts. It's even to the point where we've started going to his site and seeing what he is reading and adding even those books to our TBRs. *Dear Mr Joy..please don't file those restraining orders-we are both too lazy and anti-social to leave our houses.* I know. I should be ashamed of myself. #sorrynotsorry Enough rambling! On to the book...and what a frigging book this is. (Don't worry I'm not going to spoil anything. I just ramble on about books I love because I WANT everyone to experience them.) Darl Moody sneaks onto an old man's property to hunt that monster buck that he has been drooling over. He sees what he thinks is it but once he shoots it he realizes that he has shot a man that was also taking advantage of that old man's absence by stealing his ginseng. So Darl goes to his best buddy Calvin and gets him to agree to just bury the body. That way they don't end up in trouble. That always works. Yeah right. Turns out that the man he shot has a bat shit crazy brother. That's when the fun really starts. There is something about David Joy's writing. I honestly think he is really the best I've read at hitting the whole gritty south thing. He makes you care for characters that you never imagined even considering. He makes you think. He KNOWS the mountains better than so many that try to write these kinds of books just never can lay their finger on. I just can't even begin to describe how good he is. And you guys know my hateful ass does not give compliments easily. This guy is the real deal. Now that being said. This book is dark as hell. I mean so dark that I need to go and read something fluffy now to erase the images from my mind. You know...something by Stephen King or similar to that. Because this bad boy makes you bring out the dark side..and it sorta scared my pants off. All the frigging stars. The devil drew the line between the selfless and the selfish so that often a man could not tell on which side he stood.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Holy Moly. Or maybe I should be saying Hail Mary. This story is GRIT-TY. So much so I think anyone should be saying their prayers if they should ever encounter a Dwayne Brewer- Especially one who is looking for his missing brother. And 2 buddies know what happened to him. You don’t want to be either one of these guys as Dwayne is one big bad ass who will stop at nothing to get revenge. Will appeal to those who like that southern hillbilly noir lit with little southern charm. 4⭐️ for a page turner Holy Moly. Or maybe I should be saying Hail Mary. This story is GRIT-TY. So much so I think anyone should be saying their prayers if they should ever encounter a Dwayne Brewer- Especially one who is looking for his missing brother. And 2 buddies know what happened to him. You don’t want to be either one of these guys as Dwayne is one big bad ass who will stop at nothing to get revenge. Will appeal to those who like that southern hillbilly noir lit with little southern charm. 4⭐️ for a page turner I picked up yesterday and finished today!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Southern noir, Southern grit, I guess there are several different classifications for this type of book. An accidental shooting, posching outside of the official deer season, leads to untold violence. Sonny is the man accidentally shot to death, mistaken for a deer, leading to a cover up, that doesn't stay covered up. Revenge, one of the oldest motives in the Appalachians. Okay, I'm going to be honest. I am wimpy and this was so violent in places it was outside my comfort zone. I did admire the Southern noir, Southern grit, I guess there are several different classifications for this type of book. An accidental shooting, posching outside of the official deer season, leads to untold violence. Sonny is the man accidentally shot to death, mistaken for a deer, leading to a cover up, that doesn't stay covered up. Revenge, one of the oldest motives in the Appalachians. Okay, I'm going to be honest. I am wimpy and this was so violent in places it was outside my comfort zone. I did admire the writing, Dwayne's mental decline as Sissy's body rotted was genius if cringe worthy. I did not feel sorry for Daryl at all. He lost someone, well the only person he loved, came from a horrible background, true, but that is no excuse for what he does, and to an innocent person . Though he does have some specisl insights and does follow his own moral code, he is definitely a interesting if albeit violent character. I have given this four stars, mainly for the writing and because I liked Cal, liked how he changed throughout the book. Liked the less than definitive ending. Despite the violence the book does highlight the importance and loyalty of friends snd family, which I did like. Also liked the less than definitive ending. A well received Sisters read. ARC from Netgalley.

  11. 4 out of 5

    JanB

    Grit Lit, Southern Noir, Appalachian Noir…whatever you call it, I call it terrific writing. There's not a wasted word and so much is said without extraneous details. It takes skill to develop characters so well in a relatively short book. The novel opens with an accidental death and a cover-up. Soon things spin out of control and Dwayne, the victim’s brother, won’t rest until he has avenged his brother’s death. They grew up in an abusive home and Dwayne felt it was his duty to protect his brother Grit Lit, Southern Noir, Appalachian Noir…whatever you call it, I call it terrific writing. There's not a wasted word and so much is said without extraneous details. It takes skill to develop characters so well in a relatively short book. The novel opens with an accidental death and a cover-up. Soon things spin out of control and Dwayne, the victim’s brother, won’t rest until he has avenged his brother’s death. They grew up in an abusive home and Dwayne felt it was his duty to protect his brother, described as a “half-wit”. His brother was the only person or thing he loved. Dwayne has a strong moral code, but it’s one he wrote himself. He’s not in any way a good guy, but he has a soft spot, a tenderness within him. Early in the book we see him defend a boy who was being bullied. His tactics are not ones we can condone but to Dwayne, this is just how it is. People are rarely all bad or all good and we see glimpses of the good in Dwayne. Although, all too soon, we see his mind is deteriorating as quickly as the decomposing body of his brother (which needs a strong stomach as it is described in detail). The characters are complex and for such a gritty book it’s very philosophical, which saves it from being just a simple tale of vengeance.  These are not characters I will soon forget. Be aware it’s not for the faint of heart. There were parts where I cringed, parts where I became teary-eyed, and the ending is so tense I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. The setting is Appalachia where people do what they do in order to survive. It’s a harsh life and the people are tough. Family and friendship ties are very strong. What happens when something happens to a loved one that forces us to make a choice? What are the consequences? The writing is beautiful. Here are a few of my favorite lines: “You still can't see it and it's right in front of your eyes. It's the reason we're gathered here. The only reason we're here is because of the ones we loved. That the line that held us.”  “For whom are you willing to lay down your life? Till a man knows that, he doesn’t know anything.” “Empathy's not standing over a hole looking down and saying you understand. Empathy is having been in that hole yourself.” “Dwayne understood that his brother was not meant for this place, that some people were born too soft to bear the teeth of this world. There was no place for weakness in a world like this. Survival was so often a matter of meanness.” “For as tough as the men were in these mountains, the women had always been stone. They were used to loss, accustomed to never having enough. They were fit for the harshness of this world.” **Many thanks to Edelweiss for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review **I read this with the Traveling Sister group. As always. our discussion was a pleasure.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”I got friends who know how to have a good time They roll their own and drink carolina shine I’ve seen the devil in a dark coal mine I’ve been higher than a Georgia pine “Yeah there’s people all across the land From New York out to ol’ San Fran Just don’t give a damn all the time In an outlaw state of mind” --“Outlaw State of Mind,” Chris Stapleton, Songwriters: Ronnie Bowman / Chris Stapleton / Jerry Salley 4.5 Stars Even though it was two months before the official hunting season be !! NOW AVAILABLE !! ”I got friends who know how to have a good time They roll their own and drink carolina shine I’ve seen the devil in a dark coal mine I’ve been higher than a Georgia pine “Yeah there’s people all across the land From New York out to ol’ San Fran Just don’t give a damn all the time In an outlaw state of mind” --“Outlaw State of Mind,” Chris Stapleton, Songwriters: Ronnie Bowman / Chris Stapleton / Jerry Salley 4.5 Stars Even though it was two months before the official hunting season began, Darl Moody was going hunting. He’d had his eye on that buck for a good two years, and by the size of him, he’d feed his family for a while on that one. ”Meat in the freezer was meat that didn’t have to be bought and paid for, and that came to mean a lot when the work petered off each winter.” He follows signs of the deer’s path, the stripped bark, the scrapes on the ground, sipping from his pint of whiskey he had stashed in his camouflage pants, and listened for movement, waiting. When he hears the snap of wood under a footstep, he turns to sees a gray-bodied animal on four legs, probably a boar hog, low to the ground. ”Three. Two. Squeeze.” Darl Moody loves his family, helps out his mother when he can, and his sister and her family, too. He has a girlfriend he treats well, but they are far from rich. Simple, everyday folk, just trying to get from day to day with enough to get by on, and spend time with those they love. With this story, I think the less you know about it going in, the better it is, so I’m staying away from more of the plot. This does to have a dark side to it; there are some disturbing descriptions included, but nothing that I found objectionable or gratuitous. David Joy is one of my favourite authors for this genre, call it what you will. Southern Lit, Grit-Lit, Country-Noir, there are a plethora of categories that are variations on a theme. I’ve read all of his books, including his memoir, and loved them all. Some of my other favourite authors and their books came from a list of recommended books he used to have on his goodreads page, Taylor Brown, for one. I read Joy’s “review” of this book, where he said that he “wanted to write a book as if William Gay and Flannery O'Connor co-wrote McCarthy's Child Of God. I wanted to create a "bad guy" as memorable as Lester Ballard, The Misfit, or the Paper-Hanger. This was as close as I could get to that.” I’ve only read one book by William Gay, several of Flannery O’Connor’s stories, and one McCarthy – although it was not his “Child of God,” but it seems to me that this hits the mark he was striving for. David Joy is an incredibly gifted writer with a talent for weaving just enough darkness through his stories that you will feel every second tick by as the tension mounts, knowing that all it may take is just one small thing to change the course of this story. Ask yourself what you would do for those you love, the people in your life that mean the most to you, and read this! Pub Date: 14 AUG 2018 Many thanks for the ARC provided by PENGUIN GROUP Putnam / G.P. Putnam’s Sons

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    4.5 stars! I can’t shake the spine-tingling, stomach-churning, revenge-seeking, heart-pounding tension that filled every page of this intense, gritty, gun-slinging backroads tale. This dark, unflinching and violent story follows Darl Moody and Calvin Hooper, two men who have been friends since childhood. Darl and Calvin find themselves caught in the deceit of covering up an accidental murder. They are faced with unexpected and unending repercussions and revenge. This is not an easy read by any m 4.5 stars! I can’t shake the spine-tingling, stomach-churning, revenge-seeking, heart-pounding tension that filled every page of this intense, gritty, gun-slinging backroads tale. This dark, unflinching and violent story follows Darl Moody and Calvin Hooper, two men who have been friends since childhood. Darl and Calvin find themselves caught in the deceit of covering up an accidental murder. They are faced with unexpected and unending repercussions and revenge. This is not an easy read by any means. It is dark, brutally violent and descriptively disturbing. This would be hard on those readers with a weak stomach. It had me queasy and cringing several times. I found myself holding my breath and squinting my eyes while reading at several points in tension-filled anticipation of what brutal scene lay ahead on the next page. With that being said, the writing is so strong and compelling that I couldn’t look away – I just had to keep reading. This story gripped me from start to finish, my heart pounding in anticipation of where this haunting story would lead. This was a Traveling Sister read. To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit our blog at: https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com/2... Thank you to Edelweiss, G. P. Putnam’s Sons and David Joy for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! The Line That Held Us is available now!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susanne Strong

    4.25 Stars* (rounded down) Chilling, Dark, Dangerous, Insanely GRITTY and Gut-Wrenching. “The Line That Held Us” by David Joy is a novel that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up almost immediately. That feeling never goes away. You will get the shivers and your skin will feel a grimy grittiness and yet you can’t tear yourself away. Darl Moody is a man on on a mission: he wants to hunt. It’s out of season but he needs to put food on the table. He should have known better than to g 4.25 Stars* (rounded down) Chilling, Dark, Dangerous, Insanely GRITTY and Gut-Wrenching. “The Line That Held Us” by David Joy is a novel that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up almost immediately. That feeling never goes away. You will get the shivers and your skin will feel a grimy grittiness and yet you can’t tear yourself away. Darl Moody is a man on on a mission: he wants to hunt. It’s out of season but he needs to put food on the table. He should have known better than to go out on land that wasn’t his. Then he sees it - movement in the woods and which he could’ve sworn was a wild boar. When he goes to check it out, he realizes that he shot and killed a man: Carol “Sissy” Brewer. Darl’s anxiety, fear and remorse over the situation is instantaneous. Not knowing what else to do, he calls his best friend Calvin Hooper. Being the friend that he is, Calvin helps Darl clean things up. It is something he comes regret as the moments pass him by, the knowledge and the weight of his actions bearing down on him every second of every day. Dwayne Brewer notices his brother’s absence almost immediately. And he knows that something is terribly wrong. Sissy wouldn’t just disappear without telling him. Dwayne is not a man you want to mess with. He is full of rage, and enjoys exacting revenge on others. When he figures out what happened, well, let’s just say that he won’t take it lightly. His anger is white hot, his wraith, terrifying. His idea of vengeance is gruesome, gory and downright scary as all get out. “The Line That Held Us” is a novel about actions and consequences, retribution and absolution. It is dark, atmospheric and absolutely gut-wrenching. At times, this novel was extremely hard to handle and therefore is not for the faint of heart. It is however, a brilliant depiction of family, friends and the lengths a person will go to, to protect the people they care about. David Joy’s words gave me the chills and made my heart pound so hard I could feel it in my throat. There were passages that I felt deep within my soul, that will stay with me for a long time to come. “The Line That Held Us” was my first David Joy novel and it will not be my last. If you are a fan of Michael Farris Smith’s novels or of novels that will make you feel, that will make you think and that will pull every single emotion out of you, then this is for you. Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and David Joy for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Published on Edelweiss, Goodreads and Twitter on 9.9.18.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    David Joy tweeted earlier this summer: “Just because you ain’t been reading the right books don’t mean they ain’t been written.” I am distinctly under-read when it comes to literary fiction from authors residing in or from Appalachia. I attribute this to picking poorly from a subset of the best-known authors from two decades ago, having so-so reading experiences and then not re-visiting Appalachian-based novels, as new authors came on the scene, remaining in contented ignorance of what I was miss David Joy tweeted earlier this summer: “Just because you ain’t been reading the right books don’t mean they ain’t been written.” I am distinctly under-read when it comes to literary fiction from authors residing in or from Appalachia. I attribute this to picking poorly from a subset of the best-known authors from two decades ago, having so-so reading experiences and then not re-visiting Appalachian-based novels, as new authors came on the scene, remaining in contented ignorance of what I was missing. The Line That Held Us, and Joy’s earlier novels, among other gems is what I’ve been missing. Don’t let my mistake be yours. The Line That Held Us takes place in Jackson County, North Carolina. Jackson County has 494 square miles, and it borders the Cherokee reservation with its Harrah’s casino. It also has a 23.1% poverty rate, well above the national average of 14%. It is 85% white. For those who make a living outdoors or in seasonal work, the winter can be long and hard. One man’s poaching is another man’s survival plan for stocking his freezer up with meat to get through that winter. Poaching turns into a mistaken hunting accident. Then a decision to hide the body because the brother of the victim is capable of violence. Then that brother lives out his love for his missing brother by dedicating himself first to finding him and, subsequently, to avenging his death. One man’s late-night agreement to help out his best friend, because that’s just what you do - even with a request that could bring the law and brothers with long memories into your life. A well-intentioned cop who won’t let something that doesn’t quite smell right go unexplored. A good woman kept in the dark about all of this, but inevitably drawn in because. Because that’s how these stories always go. And yet. Joy takes a scenario that’s fundamentally familiar and makes it fresh. Each character is fully-realized. Each of their mistakes are relatively easy calls – even if they don’t turn out well. As in, each of us likely would have made the same calls under the circumstances. The bad guy has a back story and ethos that makes the reader nod in understanding with his choices, even those which are criminal or at least violent. He’s not a villain in his own eyes. He’s a hero. He’s 100% committed to doing what he believes is right. Joy’s control of his plot and his characters, as he shifts from place to place and as tension grows, is so masterful the reader isn’t aware of it. And that ending. Joy’s writing style in The Line That Held Us is a bit more colloquial than is my first preference. Conjunctions, for one. It’s markedly different than his writing in his immediately prior novel, The Weight of this World. But the novel, as a whole, is a roaring success on its own terms. I debated the fifth star for a day, then caved. It’s not a book I’ll be thinking about for months, but it is a fine ride in the moment. The Line That Held Us could be right for you if you like darker novels, where everyday struggles are real, and average joes are trying to do the right thing, getting by, marrying, having babies, still have the same best friend they’ve had since high school, and just be happy. If you’re a Jack Reacher fan but want something different and less predictable. If you want to explore one of the best of the current group of Appalachian authors. If you like noir and want to take a break from reading story after story in urban settings. If you like paragraphs like this: “Dwayne Brewer wanted desperately to go down that hillside and tell them the good news. He wanted them to hold out their hands and he’d gift them the grace of God. There was mercy in the passing of strangers, in what watched from hillsides like ghosts, in the savage running barefoot through the soil. But the hearts of men were hardened things, their eyes not meant for seeing.” Oh, and, for a good time, I strongly recommend you follow David Joy on Twitter: @DavidJoy_Author His feed’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re ready to open your eyes and learn about the real Appalachia, there’s nowhere better to find it. Thanks also to the publisher, G.P. Putnam's Sons, and Edelweiss+ for providing me with an ecopy of this novel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ EDIT: Because it was this book's birthday yesterday and when a book finally gets released that will EASILY make your Best of 2018 list, you float it . . . . ORIGINAL REVIEW: Oh Mr. Joy, how I’ve missed you. Perhaps the most ironic thing of all when it comes to this author is his name. If you were ever curious where the “Black As Mitchell’s Heart” moniker came from – David Joy’s stories are about as bleak as one brain could ever conju Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ EDIT: Because it was this book's birthday yesterday and when a book finally gets released that will EASILY make your Best of 2018 list, you float it . . . . ORIGINAL REVIEW: Oh Mr. Joy, how I’ve missed you. Perhaps the most ironic thing of all when it comes to this author is his name. If you were ever curious where the “Black As Mitchell’s Heart” moniker came from – David Joy’s stories are about as bleak as one brain could ever conjure. As my Bookwife stated over on her review, we pretty much have a Google Alert set for anything new in David Joy’s world, up to and including I now read what he tells me to (thanks again for turning me on to Larry Brown). We most definitely were in full-fledged “This Is America and We Want It Now” mode while waiting to be approved for The Line That Held Us and I am so happy to say that once again David Joy delivered the misery in spades – just the way I like it. The story here is pretty simple – Darl Moody has been chasing after a dream buck for ages and has tracked him down to Coon Coward’s private property. What ol’ Coon don’t know won’t hurt him, though, so Darl waits until he’s out of town and sets about in the wee hours to do some poaching. The only thing he wasn’t expecting? Carol Brewer to be doing some poaching of his own – digging ginseng to be exact. Rather than face the crazy which is Carol's brother Dwayne, Darl does the only other thing he can think of – enlist his best friend Calvin’s help and bury the body . . . . That might possibly be the best thing about David Joy’s books. You know there is not going to be a happy ending or that the characters will magically escape the superbadawful they have set themselves up for. I love how his stories are all different, but touch on similar themes of love, loyalty, family, friendship and religion (in the most shuddery way possible). He blurs the lines between what is right and what is wrong effortlessly. Not to mention, he really makes you feel like you are truly in the heart of the south . . . . When it comes to hick lit, he’s the bees knees. Every Star. Many thanks to NetGalley for approving me for this one before I stormed your offices!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I just finished the audiobook and this was so suspenseful... I couldn’t stop from going back to it. Darl goes poaching on a neighbors land while the neighbor is out of town...he loves hunting, he sees a shadow aways away, and watches for awhile, shoots.. and it ends up being a horrible accident. What he shot was a man who was out on the same land gathering ginseng, this sets off actions that make him a target of the crazed brother of the man he shot. At times this was almost too much to take, but. I just finished the audiobook and this was so suspenseful... I couldn’t stop from going back to it. Darl goes poaching on a neighbors land while the neighbor is out of town...he loves hunting, he sees a shadow aways away, and watches for awhile, shoots.. and it ends up being a horrible accident. What he shot was a man who was out on the same land gathering ginseng, this sets off actions that make him a target of the crazed brother of the man he shot. At times this was almost too much to take, but... I just had to keep going! Great characters in this Southern Noir novel that is a story involving rednecks, family loyalty, the bonds of friendship, despair, revenge... Real good!

  18. 5 out of 5

    David Joy

    I wanted to write a book as if William Gay and Flannery O'Connor co-wrote McCarthy's Child Of God. I wanted to create a "bad guy" as memorable as Lester Ballard, The Misfit, or the Paper-Hanger. This was as close as I could get to that.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review. I hit pay dirt with this one.  It's as dark, dirty, and gritty as it needs to be for the story it tells.  Caney Fork, Tennessee.  Here is a place where you carry your own, and where you got to pay what you owe, in a manner of speaking.   Do not trespass.  Do not poach.  And for the sake of all that is holy, do not pull the trigger unless you know for certain sure what you are aiming at. Think about what you have to lose, and weigh it against Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review. I hit pay dirt with this one.  It's as dark, dirty, and gritty as it needs to be for the story it tells.  Caney Fork, Tennessee.  Here is a place where you carry your own, and where you got to pay what you owe, in a manner of speaking.   Do not trespass.  Do not poach.  And for the sake of all that is holy, do not pull the trigger unless you know for certain sure what you are aiming at. Think about what you have to lose, and weigh it against what is to be gained.  And know that there are some mistakes that are unforgivable.     Meet the Brewer boys.  Dwayne is a mountain of a man, glowering and formidable, an avid reader of the Bible, slightly insane.  Carol, nickname of Sissy, is the younger brother, dimwitted, born with a purple birthmark that covers half his face.  He never had a chance.  (view spoiler)[What's that a'rattlin' around in Dwayne's pocket?  Why, that ain't nothin' but Sissy's pearly whites. (hide spoiler)]

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews

    I read this one with six of my Traveling Sisters and this was one that left us all breathless after reading it. It made for a great discussion. David Joy holds nothing back here and pulls no stops with this stunning and violent story that explores sacrifice and suffering. We were immediately drawn into a world where our characters live by a code and where family roots run deep and the lines that hold them are clear. The story is fiercely intense with descriptive violence that at times forced me I read this one with six of my Traveling Sisters and this was one that left us all breathless after reading it. It made for a great discussion. David Joy holds nothing back here and pulls no stops with this stunning and violent story that explores sacrifice and suffering. We were immediately drawn into a world where our characters live by a code and where family roots run deep and the lines that hold them are clear. The story is fiercely intense with descriptive violence that at times forced me to put up some filters to not absorb some of the violence. David Joy does have a way with his writing and it beautifully flows easily without any shock value. David Joy does such a great job here creating a haunting fascinating yet terrifying character here with Dwayne who is driven by rage and savage revenge. He is like no other character I have met before. He is compelling, unpredictable and unforgetting. I sat on the edge of my seat as the tension grew and I became scared about what he would do next. His character is so well done I could vividly see how his mind started to deteriorate, at times allowing me to feel empathy for his situation. That alone is brilliant writing to me. The Line That Held Us is one I recommend with caution due to the violence and isn’t one for everyone. It needs some filtering or looking past the violence and into the words that are written around the violence. Traveling Sister Group read Thank you to Edelweiss, G. P. Putnam’s Sons and David Joy for ARC to read and review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Darl Moody accidentally shoots Carol (Sissy) Brewer while poaching deer on the property of Tillmon (Coon) Coward. Carol was poaching ginseng on Coon's property, when Darl mistook him for a wild hog. Calling the police would have been smart, but that didn't happen. Instead Darl panics and gets his best friend Calvin Hooper to help him, but their efforts wind up tearing apart not only their lives, but those of the people around them. Darl and Calvin aren't smart enough to hide from Carol's brother Darl Moody accidentally shoots Carol (Sissy) Brewer while poaching deer on the property of Tillmon (Coon) Coward. Carol was poaching ginseng on Coon's property, when Darl mistook him for a wild hog. Calling the police would have been smart, but that didn't happen. Instead Darl panics and gets his best friend Calvin Hooper to help him, but their efforts wind up tearing apart not only their lives, but those of the people around them. Darl and Calvin aren't smart enough to hide from Carol's brother Dwayne, who is filled with an equal mix of grief and the desire for revenge. Dwayne has spent his whole life protecting Carol and isn't going to stop now. What would you do if someone killed the only person you had to love in this world? How far would you go to help your best friend? Whose life means more to you? Should you spread the pain you feel or can you find redemption and end the cycle? This book makes you think about all of those questions and leaves a giant one unanswered at the end. It was brilliant. This was my third book by this author and I'll read anything else he chooses to write. I like it that he writes southern noir with the minimum of the clichés of the genre. This book had characters with actual jobs other than meth dealer. There were no guys who spend all their time drinking beer as they ride around in their pickups, stopping occasionally to commit senseless acts of violence. Not that this book wasn't violent. It's just that I understood the motivation. Even Dwayne's, who was ultimately a tragic (though scary) figure. There are also some disgusting (non-violent) scenes that are not for the squeamish and some small animals are murdered horrifically. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    DARK, VERY DARK. "A man's mind is his own kind of hell." A tragic accident and a bad decision lead to violence, despair and revenge with deadly consequences in the Appalachia as an unbalanced Big BAD Giant of a man with a history seeks justice for the only one he has ever loved in the world. In THE LINE THAT HELD US, there's really not a whole lot to the storyline nor are there many characters, but, oh my, the intensity of the writing does put the fear of what's to come in your bones and pulls t DARK, VERY DARK. "A man's mind is his own kind of hell." A tragic accident and a bad decision lead to violence, despair and revenge with deadly consequences in the Appalachia as an unbalanced Big BAD Giant of a man with a history seeks justice for the only one he has ever loved in the world. In THE LINE THAT HELD US, there's really not a whole lot to the storyline nor are there many characters, but, oh my, the intensity of the writing does put the fear of what's to come in your bones and pulls the reader right into the tough life with visually deep descriptive prose. There are a few bits of animal cruelty, but what really makes this DARK read VERY DARK happens to be an (ICK!) morbid fascination......and then there is the ending....that I'm still processing.Many thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Putnam via NetGalley for the arc AVAILABLE TODAY in exchange for review.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Alright folks, get ready for a dark tale that'll drag you down into the land of human suffering. You won't be alone. All of David Joy's characters live there. Get ready to be conflicted beyond measure. Based on this story's theme, there are no villains and there are no victims...there is simply fate and survival and sacrifice. The Line That Held Us is sorrowful and full of rage and consequence, with ample threads of beauty that appear at the most unexpected times. Dark, raw, pure, and philosophic Alright folks, get ready for a dark tale that'll drag you down into the land of human suffering. You won't be alone. All of David Joy's characters live there. Get ready to be conflicted beyond measure. Based on this story's theme, there are no villains and there are no victims...there is simply fate and survival and sacrifice. The Line That Held Us is sorrowful and full of rage and consequence, with ample threads of beauty that appear at the most unexpected times. Dark, raw, pure, and philosophically psychotic, this is a must read! David Joy knows what he’s doing. My favorite quote: To be announced upon publication if I can choose between my 71 kindle highlights... Thank you to the following for permitting me access to an advance reader's copy (ARC) of The Line That Held Us. This generosity did not impact my honesty when rating/reviewing. Source: NetGalley Author: David Joy Publisher: Penguin Group Putnam - G.P. Putnam's Sons Genres: General Fiction (Adult) Pub Date: August 14, 2018

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    This is a simple story told really well. Daryl Moody was illegally hunting when he accidentally shot and killed a man. Knowing the man's brother will come after him and his family if he finds out what happened, Daryl turns to his best friend Calvin for help. And nothing will be the same again. The heart of this story isn't something that hasn't been told countless times before. However, it's effective because it really plays into the whole what would you do to protect yourself and those you love This is a simple story told really well. Daryl Moody was illegally hunting when he accidentally shot and killed a man. Knowing the man's brother will come after him and his family if he finds out what happened, Daryl turns to his best friend Calvin for help. And nothing will be the same again. The heart of this story isn't something that hasn't been told countless times before. However, it's effective because it really plays into the whole what would you do to protect yourself and those you love angle. The book doesn't have to depend on unreliable narrators, crazy plot twists, or whatever the latest trend in storytelling is because the basic premise is enough to keep you interested in the story. Definitely recommend if you are looking for some good old fashioned storytelling but be prepared for a few graphic descriptions. Thank you to First to Read for the advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    4 hard to read but wondrously written stars “There are some things worth dying for and some things worth killing for and some things that could make a man do all sorts of things he never knew he was capable of until the time came to do them.” Darl Moody has had a dream, an adventure, a quest with nature that he has followed for quite some time. He has been chasing a buck, it being the focus of an undertaking, an achievement, a purpose, a way in which he pits himself against what life has offered h 4 hard to read but wondrously written stars “There are some things worth dying for and some things worth killing for and some things that could make a man do all sorts of things he never knew he was capable of until the time came to do them.” Darl Moody has had a dream, an adventure, a quest with nature that he has followed for quite some time. He has been chasing a buck, it being the focus of an undertaking, an achievement, a purpose, a way in which he pits himself against what life has offered him. He, in this compulsion to down that buck, decides to chase this dream onto another man's property. That decision, the one he makes in order to provide food to his sister as well as the give himself a purpose, provides what will ultimately be a cruel twist of fate. A mistake happens and Darl shoots a man, a man named Carol Brewer who himself was trespassing trying to steal ginseng. The Brewers are a violent family and when Carol's brother Dwayne looks to find Carol, the chase is on as to what had become of his brother. Frightened of Dwayne, Darl enlists the help of his best friend, Calvin, to help in concealing the body. The hunt is on as Dwayne, who often said that Carol was the one good thing in his life, searches for his brother and fulfills that "eye for an eye" mantra he so believes in. This was a gritty tale, so well written that the words seem to fly up at you as you travel this road with the characters that show brotherly love, friendship and the hardness of a poor life in the Appalachian environment. Granted this book is vivid, the scenes are brutal, but the language and visions it evokes are fantastic, Mr Joy has captured a world of hardship, poverty, loneliness, and bleakness. The men rely on their basest instincts to find where survival lies. It is a raw story that unites the love one shares for a brother, a friend, and the willingness to sacrifice one's life for another. This is the line that held them. “You still can't see it and it's right in front of your eyes. It's the reason we're gathered here. The only reason we're here is because of the ones we loved. That the line that held us." This story of revenge, bad decisions, and perhaps salvation is a riveting story of what a person will do to seek their place in a society that is impoverished and suffering. It is truly a society that believes in reprisal and retribution. Thank you to David Joy, G.P. Putnam's Sons and Edelweiss for a copy of this engrossing novel. My reviews can be seen here: https://yayareadslotsofbooks.wordpres...

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    Darl Moody has been after this infamous giant buck for years. So when he hears his neighbor has gone away for a week, he takes the opportunity to go hunting--off-season and illegally--on his land. But Darl never imagined it would end like this: it isn't the buck he kills, it's Carol Brewer, a member of a local family known for violence and hatred. Scared and panicked, Darl turns to his best friend, Calvin Hooper, for help. But when Carol remains missing and his brother Dwayne comes looking for h Darl Moody has been after this infamous giant buck for years. So when he hears his neighbor has gone away for a week, he takes the opportunity to go hunting--off-season and illegally--on his land. But Darl never imagined it would end like this: it isn't the buck he kills, it's Carol Brewer, a member of a local family known for violence and hatred. Scared and panicked, Darl turns to his best friend, Calvin Hooper, for help. But when Carol remains missing and his brother Dwayne comes looking for him, the clues quickly point to Darl and Calvin. And Dwayne is looking for vengeance--and someone's blood. "There were some things worth dying for and some things worth killing for and some things could make a man do all sorts of things he never knew he was capable of until the time came to do them." Well, this was a dark story about morality and humanity that drew me in to its twisted world immediately. I've never read a book by David Joy before, but wow, he can really write. There's almost a lyrical, poetic manner to the way he puts his words together, which stands in stark contrast to the gruesome tale he tells. Believe me, this isn't a book for the faint of heart. If you're easily offended by gore, this might not be for you. However, it's certainly an emotional story about family and friendship. I've lived in or near small towns like Darl's and Dwight's--where everyone knows everyone else and family grudges run back generations. Joy captures it perfectly. It's wonderfully descriptive and excellently written, and each of the characters stand out so well. What I found so interesting and surprising was his way of making me feel for all the characters, even though most of them were making poor decisions, even terrible ones. You can feel their conflict and emotions quite clearly. "Things had a way of never leaving these mountains. Stories took root like everything else... Just as Dwayne told him the night before, a man's mind is its own kind of hell." Overall, I didn't always enjoy this book, because it's a brutal read at times, but I was wowed by the writing and Joy's storytelling. The characters are complex, and the novel presents some fascinating complexities. It was an interesting and worthwhile read. 4 stars. I received my copy of this book through one of my favorite websites, Paperbackswap.com, where you can swap copies of all your favorite books (hardcover, paperback, and more). Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Instagram

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ɗẳɳ 2.☊

    ★★☆☆☆½ Last year I really dropped the ball on writing and posting timely reviews. Even though I pledged several times to do better—to catch up or expand on a few mini-reviews—I never actually followed through. Well, it’s finally time to deliver on some of those promises. Just don’t expect any detailed summary or analysis because it’s been many a moon since I read most of these books, and my memory while elephantine is not eidetic. Up first is an opinion that’s sure to draw the ire of many a fello ★★☆☆☆½ Last year I really dropped the ball on writing and posting timely reviews. Even though I pledged several times to do better—to catch up or expand on a few mini-reviews—I never actually followed through. Well, it’s finally time to deliver on some of those promises. Just don’t expect any detailed summary or analysis because it’s been many a moon since I read most of these books, and my memory while elephantine is not eidetic. Up first is an opinion that’s sure to draw the ire of many a fellow goodreader considering the books appearance on numerous Best of the Year write-ups. But what can I say, I’m nothing if not an antagonistic wrong-reader. “Only one feeling could mask that kind of sadness, only one emotion he knew more powerful than suffering. In time, it would fill him.” After Dwayne Brewer’s simple-minded brother was taken from him, in a tragic hunting accident, and the perpetrator attempted to cover up the crime, Dwayne becomes obsessed with rooting out the truth and exacting the maximum amount of pain and suffering on all those unfortunate souls involved in the scheme. A scorched earth campaign to not only target the perps but their loved ones as well. Because Dwayne’s a crazy nightmare of a man who believes in that Old Testament, frontier justice. And, his brother, Carol, was the only soul left in this shitty ass world that he still loved, so he ain’t willing to settle for anything less than an eye for an eye to settle the score.. . .As a big fan of Grit Lit, and after reading several glowing reviews, I expected to be totally blown away by this story. Sadly, I wasn’t. I thought the plot was pretty vanilla, the characters underdeveloped, and the dialog surprisingly free from that country slang I’ve grown accustomed to in these hillbilly noirs (is the author an Elmore Leonard disciple or something?¹). Also, there were so many scenes involving the gratuitous description of a rotting corpse that I began to question whether they served any purpose or were there simply for the shock value. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Stephen King, with regard to character development—I know some of his plots are rather weak, and King’s recent books pale in comparison to his classics, but his characters rarely fail to jump off the page—or maybe I just built up my expectations too high. But, whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that I thought the author did a tremendous job at setting the scene—really immersing the reader in the backwoods of the Appalachian hill country—but a poor job at most everything else. This was my first David Joy book, but it won’t be my last. The guy definitely has the chops; I only hope for a little more compelling tale the next time around. ----------------------------------------------- ¹ Rule #7 of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing advises the author to, “Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    The Line That Held Us is less of a mystery than it is a present day Aeschylean revenge saga set in Appalachia, which explores the gruesome ramifications of a hunter accidentally shooting and killing the brother of one of the town's most notorious and violent men. The premise was really fantastic, but David Joy didn't exactly sell me on its execution. The thing that most struck me about this book was a noticeable lack of tension in Joy's writing. Moments of horror and extreme violence were unable The Line That Held Us is less of a mystery than it is a present day Aeschylean revenge saga set in Appalachia, which explores the gruesome ramifications of a hunter accidentally shooting and killing the brother of one of the town's most notorious and violent men. The premise was really fantastic, but David Joy didn't exactly sell me on its execution. The thing that most struck me about this book was a noticeable lack of tension in Joy's writing. Moments of horror and extreme violence were unable to hit any emotional beats as Joy's prose was so lifeless and perfunctory. At one point there was a paragraph about how a man parked his car down the street rather than parking it in front of someone's house, which laid out these reasons in unnecessary detail before concluding helpfully: '... and that's why Calvin had driven past and parked up the road.' Thanks, I couldn't have deduced that myself. The lack of suspense unfortunately extended from the writing to the plot, which unfolded as inevitably as you'd expect from the onset. But I do think some writers can pull this off spectacularly, writing a novel which feels like an inevitable train wreck that you're unable to interfere with or look away from, and therein lies the tragedy. I think this tried to be one of those novels, but without any sort of momentum or tension to drive it forward, it failed miserably. And then there's the treatment of the sole female character, who has no personality whatsoever but that doesn't matter anyway, because her pregnancy quickly becomes her entire identity. "You're going to get out of here for this child, she thought, the world having taken on a singular meaning. Nothing mattered outside of what she carried." (I'll have to remember that the next time I'm kidnapped: as long as I'm not pregnant, there's nothing to worry about.) I mean, I understand the sentiment he's going for, but women having no purpose in their lives until they become mothers is a trope that should have died 50 years ago. Anyway, for all that, I didn't hate this book - it was very quick and readable (despite the fact that I prolonged it for over a month, but that says more about my lack of free time than it does about the quality), and I know I'm in the minority in not thinking this was brilliant. But still... this just didn't do it for me. Thank you to Netgalley, G.P. Putnam's Sons, and David Joy for the advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    4.5 stars For whom are you willing to lay down your life? I actually came across David Joy when I stumbled upon his review for Taylor Brown’s novel Gods of Howl Mountain. I liked his writing style and was touched by his taking the time to critically read other authors' works. This is why I was so very glad to have received this ARC. As with Gods of Howl Mountain, The Line That Held Us is very dark, bleak and gritty. Joy’s descriptions are poetic and lush; so full of meaning but unassuming. If I co 4.5 stars For whom are you willing to lay down your life? I actually came across David Joy when I stumbled upon his review for Taylor Brown’s novel Gods of Howl Mountain. I liked his writing style and was touched by his taking the time to critically read other authors' works. This is why I was so very glad to have received this ARC. As with Gods of Howl Mountain, The Line That Held Us is very dark, bleak and gritty. Joy’s descriptions are poetic and lush; so full of meaning but unassuming. If I could use his own words against him "These pages sing with authenticity down to the details of cold spring water in enameled tin cups." Joy has a real talent for capturing the human essence. In the dark world painted by The Line That Held Us, the gray areas where the conflicts of our conscience reside are exposed. Questions like What happens when good people do bad things? and Are we ever justified in our actions when we commit acts of violence? are brought to the fore. As a reader you feel strongly for all of the characters. Joy is such a wonderful writer that you are able to relate to Dwayne in his sorrow and his need for retribution. You hurt for him because he has lost his only family even though you don’t want any harm to come to Darl and Calvin. Yet you know disaster is coming. A current of foreboding seeps through the pages as the inhumanity of humanity is revealed. Be warned, David Joy does not white-wash anything. The imagery is so gruesome and raw it evokes a visceral response. As a reader you can’t help but to feel the story unfold. The Line That Held Us by David Joy may be my first David Joy but it most certainly won’t be my last. For whom are you willing to lay down your life? Till a man knows that, he doesn’t know anything.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Darinda

    Darl goes deer hunting and accidentally shoots a man. When he realizes who the man is, and that he is the brother of a very violent man, Darl enlists the help of his best friend Calvin to dispose of the body. The dead man's brother, Dwayne, starts looking for him and finds the path leads to Darl. A story about revenge. This novel starts with Darl doing something bad - hunting in the off season - and gets much, much worse. Dwayne's grief leads him down a brutal path of vengeance. The characters a Darl goes deer hunting and accidentally shoots a man. When he realizes who the man is, and that he is the brother of a very violent man, Darl enlists the help of his best friend Calvin to dispose of the body. The dead man's brother, Dwayne, starts looking for him and finds the path leads to Darl. A story about revenge. This novel starts with Darl doing something bad - hunting in the off season - and gets much, much worse. Dwayne's grief leads him down a brutal path of vengeance. The characters are compelling, but a little stereotypical. Darl isn't really likable. He's the kind of guy who breaks the rules and makes poor decisions, but isn't necessarily a bad person. Calvin is a stand-up guy though, and I liked him. He's a hard-working man who is loyal to his family and friends. Dwayne's got a reputation for violence, but he's also kind of creepy. He's a cruel man with a bad temper. A gritty and intense read about love and vengeance. Dark, gruesome, and suspenseful.

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