I am reading an absorbing, charged debut novel called Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley.
Two sisters sit, side by side, in the backseat of an old car. Amity and Sorrow.
Their hands are hot and close together. A strip of white fabric loops between them, tying them together, wrist to wrist.
Their mother, Amaranth, drives them. The car pushes forward, endlessly forward, but her eyes are always watching in the rearview mirror, scanning the road behind them for cars.
Amity watches through her window, glass dotted by chin, nose, forehead, and calls out all she can to see Sorrow: brown fields and green fields, gas stations and grain elevators. She calls out the empty cross of the power pole. She is watching for the end of the world. Father told them it would come and, surely, it will. They will see its signs, even far from him. Even here.
Sorrow has her head down and her back curled over so she cannot watch. She cups her belly and groans.
“Carsick,” says Mother.
Homesick, thinks Amity.
Their mother is taking them from their home and all they know, and they have no idea how they will ever get her to turn around and take them back.
About the Book:
A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she’s convinced will follow them wherever they go–her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can’t imagine what the world holds outside their father’s polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley’s abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, AMITY & SORROW is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.
About the Author:
Peggy Riley is a writer and playwright, originally from Los Angeles and now living in Britain on the North Kent coast. She has been a bookseller, festival producer, and writer in residence at a young-offender prison. Amity & Sorrow is her first novel.
Bookmagnet Says: Riley’s opening is gripping and literally forces you to keep reading. You feel tethered to the sisters yourself, already, even on the first page.