The Buried Bookby D. M. Pulley (Website, Facebook, Twitter)
Published by Lake Union Publishing on August 23, 2016
Genres: Adult, Boys & Men, Coming of Age, Country Life, Crime, Family, Historical, Historical Drama, Mafia, Murder, Mystery
Source: TLC Book Tours
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I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.
It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.
As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother—and now it’s chasing him too.
D. M. Pulley’s historical fiction novel, The Buried Book, follows nine-year-old Jasper as he works to discover what happened to his mother, who disappeared after she dropped him off on her brother’s farm. Jasper’s dangerous journey takes him to the seedier parts of early 1950s Detroit to the Michigan farmlands of his uncle to the mysterious lands of the local Indian reservation.
Jasper is a small-for-his-age, shy boy, and he isn’t very happen when his mother abandons him at his Uncle Leo’s dairy farm in the country. He likes his stern uncle just fine, and he loves his Aunt Velma and his older cousin Wayne. They don’t treat him as if he’s a burden; they try to teach him how to farm and survive out in the country. But he doesn’t understand why his mother would steal him away from his father in Detroit and drop him with her family in the country, and he goes looking for anything that can help find her or make him understand why she left. It’s in the burnt out shell of her childhood home that Jasper finds her childhood diary, and he slowly begins to understand the childhood traumas that made his mother the woman that she is today–and how the trouble that she got into as a teenager can follow from her to Jasper in the present day.
I really loved how each chapter started with the questions that a psychologist or therapist were asking someone. They set up a little about the chapter and what Jasper would find out or happen to him next. Jasper finds himself in a very dangerous world of grown ups playing dangerous games that no child should ever be a part of while he’s looking for his mother. He often wonders if his mother is alive or dead, and if she’s alive whether or not she’ll ever come back for him. Jasper does a lot of growing up throughout The Buried Book, and he learns a lot of hard lessons for a kid of nine years old to learn–especially in that time period of our country where racism, sexism, the mob, and crooked cops reign supreme.
I shed quite a few tears for Jasper during my time with this book. Life isn’t fair to this unfortunate nine year old, and more importantly, the adults around him who think they know best don’t always know the truth. Jasper learns this the hard way throughout his search for his mother, and he learns that he can trust very few people. But he doesn’t give up, no matter how hard or treacherous the road ahead of him becomes.
The Buried Book is a gritty look at farm life in the 1950s, and D. M. Pulley really did her research to get the aspects of a dairy farm right. My in-laws farm, and I lived on a dairy farm during graduate school, so a lot of the sights, sounds, and smells were very familiar to me. She definitely gets things right. The characters from around the farming community were so vivid and real–a lot of them seemed just like the farmers and their kids that I knew growing up in my small town.
I give The Buried Book a five out of five. This coming of age historical fiction really blends suspense and at times thrilling aspects beautifully. The characters were unique and varied, and they definitely fit the era. The story of a son willing to go to the ends of the earth to find out what happened to his mother, and a mother who tries to shelter her son from her sins at any cost, was very gripping and I had trouble putting this book down. Well-written, descriptive when need be, and accurate on the historical details, The Buried Book is such a joy to read.
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About D. M. Pulley
Winning the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize launched D.M. Pulley’s career as a published author. Her work surveying an abandoned bank building in Cleveland, Ohio inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key. The unexplained disappearance of a family member inspired her second novel, The Buried Book. She lives in northeast Ohio and is currently at work on her third book.
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