Bloodroot

Bloodroot

by Amy Greene

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Overview

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A dark and riveting story of the legacies—of magic and madness, faith and secrets, passion and loss—that haunt one family across the generations.

Myra Lamb is a wild girl with mysterious, haint blue eyes who grows up on remote Bloodroot Mountain. Her grandmother, Byrdie, protects her fiercely and passes down “the touch” that bewitches people and animals alike. But when John Odom tries to tame Myra, it sparks a shocking disaster, ripping lives apart.

"A fascinating look at a rural world full of love and life, and dreams and disappointment." --The Boston Globe

"If Wuthering Heights had been set in southern Appalachia, it might have taken place on Bloodroot Mountain.... Brooding, dark and beautifully imagined." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307390578
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 531,015
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Amy Greene was born and raised in the foothills of East Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, where she lives with her husband and two children. 

Amy Greene is available for select speaking engagements. To inquire about a possible appearance, please contact Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau at speakers@penguinrandomhouse.com or visit www.prhspeakers.com

Read an Excerpt

Byrdie

Myra looks like her mama, but prettier because of her daddy mixed in. She got just the right amount of both. The best thing about Myra's daddy was his eyes, blue as the sky. They'd pierce right through you. Myra ended up with the same blue-blue eyes. I always figured she was too pretty and then John Odom came along. Now I'll die alone. It's not that I'm scared of being alone with this mountain. I love it like another person. I just miss my grandbaby. Me and Myra's mama wasn't close. Clio had little regard for me or Macon either one. Myra's the daughter I always wished I had.

I didn't see nothing wrong with John Odom at first, but even if I'd seen that snake coiled up inside his heart I wouldn't have tried to stop her. I could tell by her eyes Myra had to have him whatever the outcome. Now I know the outcome is no good. This morning I went to see her and it broke my heart in two. I can't stand to think about what he might be doing to her beside of them tracks. Through the years I got tougher than a pine knot, but something about getting this old has softened me up. I reckon I have too much time to think about my troubles these days, without Myra here to talk to.

I should have seen what was coming after that time she got in late from the library. She was supposed to have been studying with one of her school friends. But I caught a funny shine in her eyes. "What have you been up to?" I asked.

She went to the sink and got a glass of water, gulped it down like she'd been in a race. She turned around and her cheeks looked hot. She smiled with water shining on her lips. "I'll tell you later, Granny, I promise. Right now I want to keep it just for me."

"You're silly," I said, but the way her eyes shined made me nervous. Then I got busy tidying up the kitchen before bed and forgot all about it.

When I finally laid down, I fell asleep as quick as my head hit the pillow. Thinking back, it was an unnatural sleep, like I had drunk a sleeping potion. I had a dream that I was standing on a rickety bridge over muddy water. The roar of it was so loud I couldn't hear nothing else. Then I seen there was things getting carried off in the rapids. It was pieces of our house on Bloodroot Mountain. The leg off of my favorite chair. The quilt I made for Myra when she was a baby. A drawer out of the kitchen buffet. A baby doll Myra used to play with. Some floorboards and a few shingles and even the front door came rolling by. Then there was a crack and my foot went through the boards of that old bridge. It started coming apart, jagged pieces dropping and rushing away, until I was hanging on by a scrap of rotten wood, my feet dangling over the water. If I fell it would carry me off, too. Finally I couldn't hold on no longer. Just as I was dropping, I jerked awake, wringing wet with sweat. I set up on the side of the bed, heart thudding so hard I was afraid it might give out on me. I should have knowed right then. Grandmaw Ruth always said it's bad luck to dream of muddy waters.

Doug

Last night I closed the door to the smokehouse where the bloodroot is kept in cardboard boxes, away from the mice and bugs. I stood there with my back against it, looking across the yard. The house was dark with my parents sleeping and all my brothers gone. Behind barbwire the pasture made a chain of starlit humps. I took the feedbag, heavy with corn, to the barn on quivering legs. The cows are sold and the field was still, but from the barn came fitful knocking sounds. Wild Rose never rests. Daddy had to put her up because she's been getting loose more often. I think I know why. Myra Lamb is gone from her house down the mountain and Rose has been looking for her.

I went to the black opening of the barn and turned on my flashlight. The knocking sounds stopped at once. I could sense Wild Rose waiting for me in the shadows of her stall. The smells of manure and damp hay turned my stomach. Walking deeper into the barn, I saw the reflective shine of her glassy blue eyes and wanted to turn back.

"Rose," I said. "I brought you something good to eat."

The horse didn't stir as I came down the aisle, like she knew what I was up to. She's never liked being touched, but she usually lets me strap on the feedbag. I was hoping the taste of sweet corn would hide the bitterness of what I'd laced it with.

"You hungry?" It was hard to hear myself over the thudding of my heart. Part of me couldn't believe what I was doing. Maybe I was still in bed asleep.

Wild Rose took a few steps toward the front of the stall. I could hear her breath snuffling through the wet channels of her nostrils. Somehow, even before she charged, I knew that she had figured me out. She exploded out of the stall door as she had out of the trailer the first time I saw her, a storm of splintering wood and pounding hooves, with a scream that threatened to split my head in two. I dropped the feedbag and the flashlight and clapped my hands over my ears. I felt the hot passage of her body like a freight train in the dark, the force of it knocking me down. Then she was gone, out the barn opening and across the hills, leaving me to lie in a mess of spilled corn and bloodroot.

Byrdie

When I was a girl I lived across another mountain in a place called Chickweed Holler. Until I was ten years old, me and Mammy lived with Grandmaw Ruth, and two of Grandmaw's sisters, Della and Myrtle. I used to crawl up in Grandmaw's lap to study her face and follow its lines with my finger. She stayed slim and feisty up until the day she died of a stroke, walking home in the heat after birthing somebody's baby. Myrtle had hair soft and white as dandelion fluff that she liked for me to comb out and roll for her. They was all good-looking women, but Della was the prettiest. Her hair stayed black right up to the end of her life, and she didn't have as many wrinkles as Grandmaw. I reckon it's because she didn't have to work as much in the sun. She was the youngest and Myrtle and Grandmaw still babied her, old as all three of them was.

It was just me and Mammy after my daddy passed away, so Grandmaw took us in. We lived in a little cabin with a porch up on stilts. I liked to play under there, where they kept mason jars and rusty baling wire and all manner of junk for me to mess in. Chickweed Holler was a wild place with the mountains rising steep on both sides. From Grandmaw's doorstep you could see a long ways, wildflower fields waving when the summer winds blowed. That land was in our family for generations and Grandmaw and my great-aunts loved it as good as they did any of their kin.

All the neighbors thought the world of Grandmaw and her sisters. They was what you call granny women, and the people of Chickweed Holler relied on them for any kind of help you can think of. Each one of them had different gifts. Myrtle was what I've heard called a water witch. She could find a well on anybody's land with her dowsing rod. People sent for her from a long ways off. Sometimes they'd come to get her and she'd fetch the forked branch she kept under her bed and hop in their wagon. She'd be gone for days at a time, depending on how hard of a trip it was. Della was the best one at mixing up cures. She could name any root and herb and flower you pointed at. Another thing she was good for was healing animals. She could set the broke leg of the orneriest hunting dog and it wouldn't even bite her. One day I seen her in the yard bent over the washtub scrubbing and a bird lit on her shoulder. It stayed for a long time. If she noticed, she didn't let on. I stood still, trying not to scare it away. When I told Grandmaw about it later, she said animals are attracted to our kind of people, and so are other people of our kind. She winked and said, "Don't be surprised if the feller you marry has the touch. People with the touch draws one another." I've always remembered that, but I don't reckon Macon had none of the gifts Grandmaw and her sisters had. I didn't either. It's odd how the touch moves in a family. You never can tell who'll turn up with it.

Grandmaw had the best gift of all. She claimed she could send her spirit up out of her body. She said, "You could lock me up in the jailhouse or bury me alive down under the ground. It don't matter where this old shell is at. My soul will fly off wherever I want it to be." She told me about a time she fell down in a sinkhole when she was little and couldn't climb back out. She had wandered far from the house and knowed her mammy and pappy couldn't hear her. She looked up at the sun between the roots hanging down like dirty hair and wished so hard to fly up out of there that her spirit took off, rose, and soared on back to her little house in the holler. That's when she figured out what her gift was. She had no memory of being stuck in a hole that day. What she remembered was watching her mammy roll out biscuit dough and romping with her puppy dog and picking daisies to braid a crown. Grandmaw wasn't even hollering when a man out hunting came along and his dog sniffed her out. That's the gift I wish I had. I'd go back to Chickweed Holler right now and see if everything still looks the same.

Doug

It doesn't take as much to poison a horse as people think. You just have to know what to feed one. A few oleander leaves, a little sorghum grass, a bit of yellow star thistle and a horse can choke faster than the vet can get there. Tie your horse to a black locust or a chokecherry tree and it could be dead within minutes. Bloodroot is dangerous to horses, too. We have a carpet of it growing down the side of our mountain when springtime comes, thriving under the shady tree canopy high above our house. We have to walk quite a piece each year to find it. Daddy says such a lush stand is rare these days. My brother Mark, Daddy, and I used to go up there with hand spades and a sack, noses red in the leftover cold of winter. Bloodroot can be harvested in fall but the leaves have died back, so it's harder to know where the plants are. That's why we always made the trip in early spring, when the flowers are spread across the slope like the train of a wedding gown. We had to be careful not to damage the roots. When Mark and I were small, Daddy would yell at us if we were too rough, "That's money y'uns is throwing away!" He taught us to shake the roots free of clinging black soil and brush off the bugs and pluck away any weeds that might have got tangled in. Then we had to move fast because bloodroot is easy to mold. We'd head back down the mountain with our sacks to spray the roots with the water hose attached to the wellhouse spigot, washing away the dirt. Once the roots were clean we put them in the smokehouse to dry for about a week. Daddy or one of us would check them for mold once in a while, and when they broke without bending they were dry enough to store. Sometimes we got up to ten dollars a pound. I've heard bloodroot's good for curing croup, and it's even been used for treating certain kinds of cancer. Some of it we kept for ourselves, to use on poison ivy and warts. I've known bloodroot to last in a cool, dark place for up to two years. It will also kill a horse. Daddy told me so last spring, the last time we went up the mountain to dig.

It was March and still cold enough to see our breath. Daddy lumbered along beside me and Mark walked on ahead because, even though we're both grown, he always had to be the fastest. We heard the crack of Wild Rose's hooves before we saw her.

"Dang horse," Mark said. He hoisted himself up by a sapling onto a shelf of rock. "She's loose again."

Daddy shook his head but I saw a grin ripple under his beard. His beloved Rose could do no wrong. Not far up the mountain we saw the bloodroot, a lacy white patch littered with dead leaves. Wild Rose stepped out of the trees near the scattering of flowers and stood looking down at us, tail switching. Her beauty took my breath away.

"I don't believe I've ever seen her stray this far from home," Mark said. "She must be looking for something to eat up here that she's not getting in the pasture. Do you think she needs a dose of vitamins, Daddy?"

Wild Rose blinked at us indifferently for another second or two, then lowered her head to crop at the mossy grass beside the patch of bloodroot. All of a sudden Daddy sprang forward and threw up his arms. "Hyar, Rose!" he shouted. "Git!" Wild Rose turned and thundered off between the trees, tail high.

"Shoot, Daddy," Mark said. "You scared me half to death."

"Wouldn't take much of that bloodroot to kill a horse," Daddy said. He straightened his stocking hat and picked up the sack he had dropped. He moved on with Mark but I stood looking after Rose for a long time.

"This here's a three-man operation, Douglas," Daddy finally called. I went and joined them on my knees among the flowers.

Reading Group Guide

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Amy Greene’s compelling debut novel, Bloodroot—a sweeping, multigenerational story set in the hardscrabble hollows of eastern Tennessee.

1. Rather than relying on a single narrator to tell this moving, complex story that takes us from the Great Depression to today, Amy Greene uses the voices of six characters in different time periods to share their memories, their family histories, their connections to one another, and the circumstances that have enriched their lives or led to unintended sorrow. Why do you think she chose to tell the story this way? How do the characters’ voices differ from one another—their language, dialect, and colloquialisms—both between and within the generations?

2. Byrdie, for all the losses and heartbreak she’s experienced, remains resilient, selfless, and loving. Why do you think Greene chose to begin Myra’s story by going back into Byrdie’s sometimes painful history? How does Byrdie foreshadow what’s to come for Myra, both in her dreams and premonitions about John Odom, and also through her own experiences—namely her romance with Macon and the loss of her own children? What does Myra learn from Byrdie, and what lessons does she forget too easily?

3. Magic plays an important role in this story, just as it has in the real lives of generations of Appalachian families. Byrdie is the niece of “granny women” who believe that a curse on her family will be lifted when a baby with “haint blue” eyes is born, yet Myra’s birth seems to lead to even more trouble for the Lambs. Why doesn’t Myra’s birth break the curse? Do you think the curse even existed in the first place? Why do tradition and superstition exert such a strong hold on the family, even on an educated character like Ford Hendrix?

4. Appalachia is depicted as an often bleak place in this novel, where poverty, abuse, and violence are endemic. Yet it is also described as a place of great beauty. All of the female characters marry and have babies at a young age, which at times makes their lives more difficult—their husbands can be unreliable, even cruel—but some of their relationships are shown to be warm and loving. How do these contrasts create tension in the story? What social, political, and economic questions do you think the novel raises?

5. In Doug’s narrative, he speaks of the allure of Bloodroot Mountain and the important role the natural world plays in his boyhood relationship with Myra. What does the mountain represent to Doug and Myra, and to the other families who live there? How does their isolation from the rest of the world cause problems, and how does it occasionally benefit them? Why do you think Myra has “itchy feet,” and how does she pass that restlessness on to her children?

6. Wild Rose is an untamable horse with whom Myra seems to have a special, even primal, connection. What does Wild Rose represent for Myra? For Doug?

7. Byrdie passes the blood red ring she stole on to Myra, who in turn gives it to Johnny and Laura. Beyond its material value, why is the ring so important to each of them? What else does Myra pass on to her children—what less tangible legacies does she leave with each of them?

8. Why do you think Myra loves Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”? How does poetry provide both her and Johnny with a means of escaping reality in some of their worst moments? How does Johnny’s own writing help him get past all the hardship he’s experienced?

9. What life-changing insights does Johnny gain while serving time in jail? What does he mean about becoming empowered and learning to use his anger in more productive ways?

10. How do you view Johnny’s chance meeting with Ford Hendrix? Is it coincidence, or is something more powerful at work? What do Johnny and Myra find appealing in Ford? Do you think Ford’s visions are real, or are they, along with his tales of how he lost his finger, part of his storytelling gifts?

11. What draws Johnny and Ford to Carolina? In addition to her healing gifts, how is she different from other women? How does the experience of living with Ford and Carolina in the idyll they’ve created in the woods—and the way this experience ends—change Johnny?

12. Why is Laura attracted to Clint? What do they have in common? Does Clint share any of Macon’s qualities, and does Laura share any of Byrdie’s? Why does Clint begin to withdraw after their marriage? Why can’t Clint tell Laura what’s troubling him? Do you think he drowns on purpose—is it a suicide or an accident? Why would he want to kill himself?

13. What does the patronizing attitude of Laura’s doctor say about the attitude of the outside world toward the people of rural Appalachia? How does the representative of Children’s Services confirm that attitude? Knowing Laura as you do, do you think it’s possible that she would kill her baby rather than give him up?

14. At the end of Laura’s and Johnny’s narratives, what changes have they undergone that enable them to stop believing in curses and to visit their mother for the first time? How has their relationship—and the fact that they are twins—evolved to come full circle in some ways?

15. At the beginning of the section Myra narrates, we can tell that something is not right with her, and we learn later that she is living in a mental hospital. Do you think Myra is mad, or haunted? Is her institutionalization is unjust? How does her encounter with Hollis affect her? Why do you think she doesn’t want to leave the hospital? Is she really content there?

16. Myra believes she has succeeded in bewitching John Odom into falling in love with her by swallowing a chicken heart; she also comes to believe she too is culpable in the disintegration of their marriage. Do you think Myra shares in the blame, or is John entirely at fault for the brutality that ends their relationship? Or is it in their bloodlines—could they have inherited legacies of violence from their parents? What role does fate play in what happens between them?

17. How does the magic that brings Myra to Ford—if it is magic—differ from that which brings Myra and John together? Compare Myra’s first meeting with Ford to the first time she sees John: do her feelings for Ford provide a counterbalance for her other relationships with men? Does Myra’s time with Ford help her find the courage to leave John, or is it John’s brutality that gives her the power to break down what has kept her prisoner?

18. Why does Myra not seem to care whether Ford or John is the father of her children? Who do you imagine is the father, and does it matter to you either way? Would knowing change the meaning of the novel for you?

19. Is it surprising that John is alive and living up north or that he has long since forgiven Myra, even though his body bears the evidence of her revenge? Do you believe him when he says he still loves Myra? Do you think that, as the product of an abusive father and an alcoholic mother, John has the capacity to be redeemed?

20. Were you surprised, along with John, to see Doug reappear in the story? Do you agree with Doug’s idea that loving Myra has cursed both men?

21. Why did John visit Myra back in 1996? What did he realize about her resilience in spite of her long years in an institution? Is the ending of the book an unexpected coincidence? Or is it perhaps one last magical act, giving John the capacity to change his life? And does he?

22. Thinking about Johnny, Laura, and Sunny at the novel’s conclusion, John Odom says, “I used to think I was born worthless, considering the people I come from. But when I saw that blue-eyed baby years ago, it made me wonder” (pages 364–65). How do Myra and Johnny wrestle with similar questions of their own? What do you think the novel is trying to say about inheritance and destiny?

23. The bloodroot flower has the power to poison and to heal, and while the lives of the characters in Bloodroot often seem bleak, the novel seems to end on a hopeful note. Amy Greene told one interviewer that “the discovery in the novel is that it is possible to take what’s good from the life you’ve lived and move forward, and leave the rest behind.” Do you agree? If so, which characters in the novel do you think illustrate this statement best?


(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit www.readinggroupcenter.com)

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Bloodroot 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 149 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On Bloodroot Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, Byrdie Lamb raises her grandchild Myra, whose mother and father died when a train hit their vehicle while they were carousing. Byrdie loves Myra who is more a daughter to her than her daughter Myra's mom Clio ever was. She also knows Myra has the "touch" skill that runs in the family though Byrdie never displayed this ESP talent. In fact, Myra's boyfriend Doug not only realizes it, he knows he will never win her love because of it. He is proven right when she meets John Odom, son of the hardware store owner. He is also "touched" and they passionately fall in love. However his violence pushes her from his valley home back up the mountain where she raises their twins Laura and Johnny. The siblings have issues as their mom is placed in an asylum. Laura marries and has a child, but when her spouse dies his family takes away her kid. Johnny burns down his paternal side's store. The next generation seems destined to repeat the same mistakes as the previous generations on Bloodroot Mountain. This is an engaging Appalachia family drama that looks deep inside the souls of the cast with Myra being the link between five generations of mountain people. Although the subplots are straighter than the Bonneville Salt Flats and some key characters just vanish, readers will appreciate the depth of life on Bloodroot Mountain as even a finger with a ring on it becomes symbolic of dreams broken and breathing in Amy Greene's profound harsh slice of Appalachia. Harriet Klausner
gypsyheart More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was dark and haunting, yet not heavy. It had everything. I didn't want to sleep when I was reading it and couldn't stop thinking about it when I wasn't, and I read it slowly, because I did not want it to end. Very satisfying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, I have shared with many friends and they loved it too. The title "Bloodroot" fits perfectly if you know what Bloodroot is. If you don't, the author fills you in. Bloodroot is a flower high in the mountains, the root; when punctured, pours out red sap like blood, and the flowers saproot may be used for healing, but abused will kill. This ties in the story. The main character Myra and her lifestory is told by several family members each giving you a different view of Myra, whom is like Bloodroot. The book is full of twist and turns, induwindows, and characters that make your heart pound in excelleration. The book is intense. I highly recommend this book, even if you are sceptic, try it and you will finish it gauranteed!
dadwyer More than 1 year ago
The second half of the book moved alot faster than the first half but I almost didn't make it to the second half as I found the perspective shifts and quantity of daily minutia tiresome. Glad I hung in there. Painful domestic violence.
HonestOpinion More than 1 year ago
I know this book got a lot of attention, but I found it to be difficult to read because it was extremely boring. The plot moved slowly, the characters, although well developed, were boring, and I was generally not impressed. I like books to move at an even pace and have exciting, climatic events. This book moved at a snale pace and I found it very difficult to finish. Good for someone who enjoys slow plots and back and forth story lines (the story is told from differnt points of view at different times). Was not impressed with this book at all.
cschwing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Amy Greene's first novel is a wonderfully written, engaging work. I heard an interview with Ms. Greene on NPR and knew I had to locate a copy of this book. The characters are well developed and the vivid quality of the writing draws you into their lives.
rolletm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot was a stretch for me. I was apprehensive when I started and it took me a few weeks to finish. Although in the end I'm glad I pushed through, it still wasn't the epic novel that it was built up to be.The narration was through the eyes of Birdie (Myra's, the main character, grandmother), Doug (Myra's childhood neighbor), Johnny and Laura (Myra's twin children), and Myra. Oh and the epilogue was told by John, Myra's husband. Of course, with all these different characters' view points and different generations, I got confused easily (not really a surprise though - I get confused a lot). It was also difficult for me to stay interested when the writing had some sort of "southern/mountain" accent that I would have to read two to three times just so I understood correctly. Although I thought the characters where well developed with interesting histories/stories and their stories where well intertwined.The plot was great though, in spite of the accent issue. So basically I had two issues. The first was the accent some characters had. The second, there were no chapters, just a change in narrator. I can't tell you why the chapter thing bugged me, all I know it that it did. I started reading and though "hey I'll just read the first couple of chapters for now." And then it just never ended!! For goodness sake! That's how I know its time to put the book down for bed or to do some other task, but then again I'm overly weird about stuff like this sometimes.And let's face it . . . I'm not cut out for the novels that "stand the test of time" like this one supposedly will. I'm more of a frivolous, happy-ending, sappy crier, book lover. And maybe that's the issue with these types of books.
nightprose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is quite possibly the best book I have ever read. It is haunting and memorable on many levels.My family comes from Tennessee, so perhaps this book means that much more to me. In it, I heard the voices of my own speaking to me. But, I know this novel is far more special. It is hard to believe this is a novel. The layers of this book are thick and tangible, with generations, people, lore and history. Ms. Greene is a very rare and gifted writer. I don't know how she can possibly exceed such writing...but I will be there to read it.
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a very different story and kind of hard to review without giving the story away. It has a beautiful magical quality to it. The characters are all very flawed and the story jumps between time periods and narrators. It¿s a family saga that spans 3 generations in the Appalachian Mountains. The main focus is Myra Lamb whose parents died in a car accident when she is small and her grandma Byrdie then raises her, we hear the story of Myra¿s parents and Myra¿s life and the life of her children. Myra is a tomboy who loves the mountains and is always looking for her next adventure. She has a pretty good life until she meets and marries John Odom then things go downhill for her. The main part of the story is about her children Laura & John who do not have a very good life. The story does keep you guessing about a few a things until the end and there are some storylines that didn¿t seem to needed but then there are these coincidences you find out as the story progresses that lend to the magical realism of this book.I did enjoy this book the whole feel of it is good although I must warn you it is not a happy story its sad and I wasn¿t totally satisfied with the ending and kind of wished the characters had known what I knew about the coincidences. But all in all I would recommend this book if you like southern fiction with magical realism and family saga¿s.3 ½ stars
thewindowseatreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot is a family saga taking place on Bloodroot Mountain in the Appalachia region of East Tennessee. It centers around Byrdie and Myra Lamb, a grandmother-grandaughter duo. This novel tells their stories, which are stories of love and loss, life and death, tragedy and redemption. There is a subtle touch of magic and folklore in this novel that interestingly ties it all together.Bloodroot captivated my attention. The writing was rich and lovely. It felt more like I was sitting at the feet of these characters listening to their reflections rather than reading words on a page. There were a couple of loose strings that left me wondering, but I was able to set aside those questions and simply enjoy the novel. The storyline is haunting, and the psychological complexity is spellbinding. This was Amy Greene's first work of fiction, and I cannot wait to what she releases next!
katekf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot is a book that stays with you as it traces the life of a family through numerous voices. Bloodroot mountain holds them together and the story has at its heart a woman named Myra Lamb who changes all those who meet her. There are no true villains or heroes in this book, which is a rare thing to have done well. Instead the author shows how we all have points of weakness in our lives and if we are lucky then we are given second chances to make our lives better. This would be an amazing book for an adult or high school book club as it looks as how our family and where we grow up effects the people that we become and how we can change it.
wagner.sarah35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A rich and evocative tale of a family through several generations set in remote Appalachia. Bloodroot is told from multiple points of view and focuses on Myra, who falls in love with the wrong man with disastrous consequences that effect the fates of her children. Amy Greene has skillfully recreated the atmosphere and given depth to the region as well as showing the hardships - both physical and emotional - faced by the characters.
LauraT81 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot, set in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennesse, follows the life of Myra Lamb, a girl as wild and untamable as the mountains. This epic story is told by several different characters, all with a unique voice, from Byrdie, Myra's grandmother to Myra herself, in such a believable way that readers will swear that they know them years from now. Bloodroot is part heart, part hate, part mystery, and a whole lot of the ties-that-bind. I won't forget this debut anytime soon.
burnit99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good novel set in Appalachia, crossing several generations of a family steeped in mountain magic, family secrets and hidden longings. I read it a month ago and have pretty much lost the plot, except that there was a satisfying ending that resolved the explosion of violence that came about when a long-suffering wife finally had to escape her husband's torments. It was a good and well-written story, but there are books I can read once and recall everything decades later. This wasn't one of them.
rbooth43 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot by Amy Greene is a page turner. The best Appalachian Fiction to come out in a long, long time. The characters were bewitching and the plot outstanding. The story of Myra Lamb, a young girl growing up on the remote Bloodroot Mountain, and her grandmother Byrdie Lamb, who passes down the touch that bewitches people and animals alike, and John Odom, who tries to tame Myra and the violent disaster that brings the reader to a fever pitch. A very dark story that is told so beautifully. I couldn't put this book down until I read the last page. I am a new fan of Amy Greene's and am looking forward to her next book. I highly recommend this book!
aimless22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful creative masterpiece! Different narrators provide circuitous path to the story. Completely believable and complicated characters. The feel of the south comes through in every sentence.A real marvel of a novel about the families that make their homes on and around Bloodroot Mountain. Generations are represented in understandable ways. Relationships are complex, but easy to keep straight.Can't wait for book two!
Kimaoverstreet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Through the voices of different characters, Amy Greene weaves together the story of a rural Appalachian family through several generations. Her first person writing is so smooth, it's almost like the words are being spoken aloud as you read them. I will reccomend Bloodroot, and look forward to more novels from Amy Greene.
Jaie22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Of two minds about this book. All was well and good for the first two sections. But then, in the third section, we came to the bunny incident, and I threw the book to the floor and only picked it up again to get rid of it. (I'd already skimmed a bit, so it was clear what was going to happen anyway.)Okay already, we get that the hubby is bad and evil and cruel and all else. You don't have to knock the reader over the head with it like that. Really. It was too much for me. So if I could edit out that part, which really wouldn't be difficult to do and only takes about two pages anyway, I'd give the book four or five stars. With it there, I'm being generous by giving it two.
tangledthread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in the mountains of Tennessee, this story is told in the voices of 3 generations regarding the main character of the novel, Myra Lamb. From Myra's grandmother, Byrdie Lamb, we learn a family history of women who were able to summon signs and spells according to mountain lore, providing the introduction of a thread of magical realism that runs through the novel. In this same section we learn about Myra's childhood from Doug Cotter, a neighbor and playmate who is enchanted by Myra from a very young age. Doug's family collects and sells bloodroot, a potent and potentially poisonous herbal remedy used iamong the mountain people. The Cotter family also owns an untamed horse named Wild Rose. The wild and enchanting behavior of Myra and Wild Rose are often compared through the story.The second part of the narrative is provided by Myra's twin children, Johnny and Laura. They provide a dimension of Laura as a young mother, raising them alone on the side of the mountain while hiding them from the rest of the world. The one time they venture into public as a young family proves to be the unraveling of Myra and the children are moved into foster care then separated. As they move into adulthood, their lives are shadowed by the absence of Myra and her secrets. For Johnny, the absence of his father is also a looming shadow.In the third section of the book, Myra's voice unfolds her story as she experienced it. She tells of a happy childhood bathed in the love of her grandparent guardians and allowed to run freely on the mountain. She moves into adolescence and the captivation of an older, handsome and slightly dangerous John Odom. Myra draws on the story of spells from her ancestors to captivate John, then she sacrifices her love for her grandmother and her love of the mountain to be with John. Both John and Myra have grown up without a mother, and when Myra probes John about his mother, the marriage sours and John becomes a dark, controlling and punishing spouse. As Myra takes the reader through this part of the marriage, many the dark secrets in the earlier part of the book are revealed.The novel is well written, with language that poetically conveys the beauty and the darkness in the lives of these mountain people. The writing reminds me a bit of Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins and a little of Alice Hoffman's magical realism.
dissed1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bloodroot is the well-written story of a family torn apart and reunited through their own desires and misfortunes. The focus of the story is Myra, a beautiful mountain girl content with rural life with her Granny, until John Odom catches her eye. Bewitched by her indescribable magic, John marries Myra and takes her off the mountain. The newlyweds don't enjoy bliss for long however. At the mention of his departed mother, John changes, and becomes something entirely different than Myra had in mind. From this point on, Myra and her kin lead lives of despair and pain, running from the law and keeping secrets they never meant to own. I loved the way author Amy Greene wove pieces of the story together through different characters' voices. She leads the reader just far enough along her plotline to keep them tense with anticipation, and then backtracks and switches to a different viewpoint. In the end, the various voices blend seemlessly together, creating a narration that's seamless and holds true. In my opinion, an altogether accomplished work, capable of drawing forth emotions and moral contemplation.
MelindaLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is an endless litany of abuse, violence, rape, ignorance, fear, blame, hatred, hopelessness, and despair with the tiniest smidgen of magical realism thrown in. I felt frustrated and cranky and helpless while reading this book. I'm not certain what the author wanted as the themes for this novel, but what I took away from it is most people who live in Appalachia are severely uneducated, poor, violent, sexist, mean-spirited, hateful, backwards, mentally ill, hopeless, prone to murder and suicide, and make the worst life choices possible. I do not recommend this book.
BlackSheepDances on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
¿It doesn¿t take as much to poison a horse as people think.¿¿I might have won her respect. Or maybe she smells my acceptance of the truth that she¿s tried to tell me all along. Some creatures are just meant to be left alone. They can¿t be held on to, even if we love them more than anything.¿It is sentences like these that reach out and grab you , pulling you into this book, a stunning new novel by Amy Greene. The book is an epic story of several generations living near Bloodroot Mountain. It¿s not a simple read, as you get acquainted with a large number of characters right away, and each of them has a compelling story. All the characters are complicated and deep, and at several points it¿s difficult to know just how you are supposed to feel about them (Is this person a villain? Or just misunderstood?). Greene makes this draw you further into the book, because you never fully know as you read how you feel. One character may repel you and yet you feel drawn to them later. The landscape and the flora and fauna of Bloodroot Mountain, as well as the other locations, is as much a character as the people in the book. Descriptions of damp caves, briar covered paths, and the flowing wild herbs make you shiver with the realism. The isolation of the mountain community is at times comforting, and at other times chilling. The level of detail is intense, and you can tell that the author didn¿t simply imagine this place. It has to really exist somewhere.Emotionally it¿s a tough read. The characters suffer more pain than most, and at times I had to pause and stop because events unraveled so terribly. There¿s also a high level of suspense, and at points I caught myself holding my breath as I turned the page to see what would happen next. Details of the poverty, mental illness and distress are laid out plainly and painfully.¿I reckon I am ruint in a way. I can¿t think straight no more. I forget the names of the craziest things, like flowers and biscuits and chairs. And you know I¿ve buried five children and seen their dead bodies, watched them get sicker and sicker and not been able to help them a¿tall, but the picture that vexes my mind the most is Myra when she opened the door of that house by the tracks. That¿s the thing that¿s done broke my heart in two, because she¿s the one that saved me after all them others was gone. Myra¿s the one I love the best of all, it doesn¿t matter that I never bore her. She was mine anyhow.¿This novel has several remarkable qualities that make it unique. One is that when describing successive generations of women, Greene manages to make them have similar traits and speech and they all flow together as truly related. It¿s as if she somehow created their DNA and sprinkled familiar bits about, so that each woman is different but undeniably made of the same stock. Another feature is the use of foreshadowing. Some authors lay the groundwork for an important detail, then come back to it later and make the loop complete. But Greene lays down details that come up again, not once, but several times, making the details interlinked like a delicate chain.This book is best enjoyed when you have time to focus on the characters without rushing.
BillPilgrim on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Story of a family in Appalachia, as told by a few different characters. The main actor is Myra Lamb, who grows up on Bloodroot Mountain but leaves when she falls in love with and marries John Odom when she is still a teenager. They have a supernatural attraction, something that comes from Myra's family. Part One starts with the story as told by Birdie and Doug. Birdie is Myra's grandmother, but she raised Myra after her daughter, Myra's mother, dies with her father when their car is hit by a train. Birdie can take the story back to a previous generation. Doug is a neighbor on the mountain, Myra's age, who is a good friend of hers and who also loves her but it is an unrequited love. Part Two is told by Myra's children, Johnny and Laura, who are fraternal twins. They tell about living with Myra alone on the mountain, in her grandmother's old house, removed and hiding from society, after they have to leave John Odom. In Part Three, Myra tells her story, focused on her life with John, which explains how she ended up in Part Two. Finally, there is a epilogue of John's, that fills in some gaps in the story.I mostly enjoyed the book. My favorite part was the second, and after that, I really only wanted to find out the missing pieces of the the story. Myra's portion of the book did not engage me as much. She did not feel as real to me as her children did.
tanya2009 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
About a family from the Great Depression to today from Appalachia.
EEWRITER on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written voyage into the darker side of the south. Characters come alive, and sometimes break your heart. A great read by a bright new voice.