Finding The Grain by Wynn Malone is, in my mind, one of those rare treasures destined to become a classic- if not an instant classic, it is certainly a cut well above. It’s one of those books that, as a writer, I read and get jealous because I WISH I could write like that! Maybe some day if I keep at it…It’s not that the story is particularly unique necessarily; the basic elements are pretty common, in fact (at least at first glance). Girl meets girl, they fall in love, there’s something that keeps them apart but in the end their love is just too strong to deny, etc. But it’s SO MUCH MORE than that, and it’s HOW the story is told that makes this one special. It is how this story is told that will keep me coming back to it again and again.
Finding the Grain is the story of a woman named Augusta Blue Riley, Blue to most, and takes place over a couple decades (+) and several states. It’s about love, loss, the human spirit, and finding your place in the world- a place to call home. Yes, it’s a romance; but for me, the romance of this book is secondary to the journey this woman takes to get where she needs to be- it’s a catalyst, it’s an engine and it’s one of the rewards, but it’s not the real point. For me, this book is about growth, trust, strength of spirit and love. Not just fleeting romantic love, but the real, abiding and lasting love between people that are bonded at a soul deep level- whether it’s the family we’re born with or the family we choose- and letting that love in.
Ms. Malone’s descriptions of people and places bring them to life in a way that isn’t so common in recent work; it’s the sort of description and insight that can only come from having been there or from having the sort of deep empathy necessary to get the story right. Whatever the case for Ms. Malone, she definitely gets it right. I’ve lived in Alabama. I’ve been to Colorado and the west coast and Mississippi and North Carolina and I can tell you that it’s 100% spot on. But it’s more than that. It’s not just a passive expression, but the kind that gets as under your skin and into your bones as real time spent in a real place with real people. I laughed, I cried, I got angry; I felt the hurt and the heat and the resentment and the joy right along with Blue and the other wonderful people her path crosses.
If this reads like a glowing review for this book, GOOD. I LOVED IT. And I was sad when it ended – not because of the ending, but because I wanted it to go on forever.