The Forgiving Kind

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

This was a well-written coming of age, historical fiction story taking place in North Carolina in the 1950s. The Creech family live on a cotton farm and all is going well. Twelve year old Sonny has recently found out she can divine water and is nicknamed "The Water Witch". When her father is killed by a rattlesnake bite, the family is hoping to continue farming. As the heartbroken and grieving family try to move on and farm the land, their greedy neighbor, Mr. Fowler, comes over and offers them a deal. Sonny is instantly on edge. She does not like this man and her best friend, Daniel, knows that the man has ulterior motives. The saying nothing is free, is very true in this situation.

The author does an amazing job of creating a hateful character in Frank Fowler. He was sneaky, a liar, a bully, involved in the clan, hot headed and used his fists on weaker people. He is conniving and convinces Mrs. Creech to make decisions to save her family and farm that end up being the worst decisions she has ever made. I loved the relationship Sonny and her best friend Daniel have. They are best friends who share so much, until Frank destroys that bond. Family ties are stretched, mother/child love is threatened and the lives of this family will never be the same. This is a coming of age tale for Sonny, but it is also a story about loss, decisions, bigotry, friendship, grief, abuse, heartache, doing the best you can, regret, prejudice, forgiveness and survival. The author did her research into the time and the farming techniques which made the story very realistic and heartbreaking. The story was very well-plotted with a very surprising, yet satisfying ending. I was very interested in reading the author's notes at the end of the story. It gave insight into her journey and thoughts while writing this book. I definitely recommend this thought provoking and riveting story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially US history, will enjoy this story very much.
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I am in charge of our Senior School library and am looking for a diverse array of new books to furnish their shelves with and inspire our young people to read a wider and more diverse range of books as they move through the senior school. It is hard sometimes to find books that will grab the attention of young people as their time is short and we are competing against technology and online entertainments.
This was a thought-provoking and well-written read that will appeal to young readers across the board. It had a really strong voice and a compelling narrative that I think would capture their attention and draw them in. It kept me engrossed and I think that it's so important that the books that we purchase for both our young people and our staff are appealing to as broad a range of readers as possible - as well as providing them with something a little 'different' that they might not have come across in school libraries before.
This was a really enjoyable read and I will definitely be purchasing a copy for school so that our young people can enjoy it for themselves. A satisfying and well-crafted read that I keep thinking about long after closing its final page - and that definitely makes it a must-buy for me!
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This is a beautifully written story of a family in rural North Carolina set in the 1950s. With wonderful characters and so many layers to the story, I was gripped from the start. 

"The Forgiving Kind" was a riveting, compelling and an emotionally complex story. The narrative was spellbinding, heartbreaking and tragic. The writing, overall, was terrifically good. Donna Everhart captured time and place so efficiently. The well-paced plot really raised the tension and anxiety and I knew something awful was about to happen. In this coming-of-age story, the descriptive prose beautifully depicted the themes of violence, abuse, prejudice, friendship, family and perseverance.

This novel was a delight to read.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Kensington Books via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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I enjoyed this book it is a good story I just kept wishing that Sonny being a "water witch" would have been explored more I felt like it was more of a throw away than part of he story and that disappointed me.

I have loved Everharts other books and I did enjoy this one just maybe not as much as Dixie!

I ended up listening to the audio version and Tiffany Morgans narration was good.
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The story of family, learning to live in a new reality, really hit home for me.  Sonny is an immediately lovable and identifiable character.  Losing her father, who she shared so much with and upon whom her family depended so much, sends her entire life into upheaval.  When it rains it pours, except here the deluge that comes down upon the family is drought, and the farm that barely kept them afloat is now perilously close to going under.  Her mother seems blind to the "helpful" neighbor.  I don't want to say much about the story after except that it was not what I expected going in.  I would recommend to anyone who wants to read about family and moving on from great grief.
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I enjoyed this coming of age book based in my state of NC. The book really drew me into the time period and the characters. I have ordered this book as my patrons love books set in their state. Will be looking forward to this author's next book
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The Forgiving Kind us a coming of age story set in 1951 in North Carolina.  I really liked this story.  The characters are so interesting and the story will keep you reading long after you should turn off the lights.  I am so glad I read this book, it will be with me for a ling time.  Thank you netgalley and publisher for the gift of the arc of this story, the review is soley my opinion
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This book! My heart, it's broken. This is gritty Southern fiction set in the 1950's in North Carolina. Martha aka Sunny is her daddy's darling, he's a cotton farmer. He doesn't have high ambitions in his life but he loves his family and will do whatever needs done to take care of them. Sonny has two older brothers. Normal sibling relationships with the normal amount of fighting. Nothing unusual there until a tragedy happens. The family has never known such tragedy. Sonny has a friend she's had for many years, her friend Daniel. He is a bit different than the other children and gets teased mercilessly. I hated to see this I really did . Frank Fowler, well I can't remember the last book I read that I had such an intense dislike for a character. Sunny comes of age during the 1950's and believe me she sees and knows plenty. The book touches on bigotry,the Klan and a confused boy, Daniel who is different than his peers. I do believe the author handles these topics with class and tenderness. This book was paced very well, I didn't run into any spots that I thought needed smoothed over or that were slow. I have read all of this author's books and you just say to yourself this book could actually be real. The scenario could have really happened. I look forward to whatever the author has for us next.
Published January 29th 2019 by Kensington
I was given a complimentary copy of this book. Thank you. All opinions expressed are my own.
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Life in 1950s North Carolina requires hard work, but 12 year old Martha "Sonny" Creech feels most at home alongside her father in the cotton fields.  Sonny shares with her father the gift of divining water. This special bond between them draws the relationship even closer. That is all shattered in an instant and life for the Creech family takes a dramatic turn.  Soon their neighbor Frank Fowler begins coming around and its clear he truly is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type. His influence in their lives brings a definite change to the entire Creech family.  

The Forgiving Kind is a coming of age story that also deals with some other weighty topics.  I found myself drawn into the book at times, but then found the pacing of the novel dragging at other times. It could be due to the heavy topics being handled, and also the just genuine meanness of some of the characters. So to that note, I would say character development was indeed very well written.  

I received this book courtesy of Kensington Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a compelling coming of age story set in 1951 North Carolina. When Martha "Sonny" Creech's father dies in a tragic accident the family is left with limited resources to stay on their cotton farm until a neighboring farmer offers them a deal they are unable to refuse. An engrossing read and memorable characters that I will not soon forget.
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This remarkable book brings childhood on a cotton farm in 1950s North Carolina vividly to life.  In Sonny’s compulsively readable narrator’s voice, I found that I could see, smell, and “feel” her surroundings, emotions and experiences.  I could easily and happily read another 350+ pages written in her voice!  I loved the story and the way it was told, even though there are some parts that made me so angry and some that made me feel broken.  It captures the way that children’s lives are so reliant on the decisions, actions and fate of their parents and the adults in their life, and it boldly confronts many harsh realities of the south at this time in our country’s history. This is the first of Donna Everhart’s books that I’ve read – I am thankful that I have two others to catch up on while she is working on her fourth!
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Thank you NetGalley for an ARC. This book started as a 4🌟 read for me but it just became too disturbing to the point I skimmed in the last 20 percent. It’s a coming of age story, and I loved the main character, as well as her relationships, but the bigotry, abuse and homophobia just became too much. Having sensed what would eventually come, I struggled to finish it.  Honestly, I wish I would have DNFed halfway through.
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A remarkable story that I won't forget. This pulled me in deep and had me holding my breath at times. I'm a fan of Donna Everheart ,her stories of the deep south are my favorite. They just keep getting better. A compelling read  that stays with you long after the end.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

First of all, there were a lot of things I liked about this book. It was well-written, the characters felt real and complex and the plot was suspenseful and engaging. I love historical fiction and this book is a beautiful picture of that.

However, I did struggle with the intensity of the story told here. Perhaps if it were what I was expecting, I may have felt differently - but this book depicts spousal abuse, child abuse, miscarriage and even rape in very intense ways. I fully appreciate the story the author was trying to tell and the awareness she is bringing to a time in history. However, I felt very overwhelmed by the book and unprepared for how intensely it developed. 

This is a book that I am glad I read, but I struggled to read it. I feel it is important in the light it sheds on the time in history and the heroism of many women like Sonny and her mother (although they are fictional), but a hard and intense book to navigate through.
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CW: child abuse, domestic abuse, parental death, homophobia, non-graphic rape

As the content warnings I've listed suggest, this is a heavy book. It was emotionally exhausting to read, and while I had to take several breaks just to regroup, I also wasn't able to put it down fully and as such, raced through it despite this.

The growing hatred you as a reader feel for Mr Fowler through is a truly visceral reaction. He represents, in many ways, the kind of character that many of us have crossed paths with in our life: manipulative, abusive, and so charming that others are blind to his true nature. 

The feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness I felt while reading this was intense - when you're hoping that a 12 year old child commits murder, you know that you're reading something that you're emotionally invested in! 

The setting was described so beautifully that I could easily picture it - the idyllic Southern lifestyle, with the dark taint of bigotry always looming. Feeling Sonny's innocence with regards to this slowly crumble throughout the book - from an awareness that people of colour are treated differently but no understanding of why they should be, to first hand experience of bigoted abuse - was heartbreaking.

And yet, despite - thankfully - being a childhood very different from my own, I felt like I was living hers first hand.

What is perhaps the most tragic takeaway from this book is that although the hatred is on display is exacerbated by the historical location - 1950s North Carolina - as the author notes in her acknowledgements, it is just a catalyst for something that is sadly timeless. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart

I had to wait a few days after finishing to write this review because it was so raw after I read the last half of the book non-stop because I couldn’t put it down.  It had begun with such a happy life for this rural family, then took a very sad turn, but the final fall into fear and horror left me gasping and flying through the pages. There was so much to love about the family and their affection for each other, positive attitudes, and caring outreach to Sonny’s friend Daniel.  I loved that it included the “water witch” in such an understanding way.  The cruelty and hate unleashed after Mr. Fowler has secured control over them was so horrifying and yet so obvious in the character of the narcissistic Fowler.  You could really sympathize with Sonny’s mom’s dilemma and her need to provide for her family at such a difficult time.  Women had few resources in a community such as this, and it was a pretty accurate picture of that aspect.   I had enjoyed previous books by the author, and this continues her success and development.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Kensington Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I posted a review on Amazon as well but the review has not shown up yet. I  will come back and add it when it comes in) 


Donna Everhart is a North Carolina native who knows the ways of the south and southern fiction. The Forgiving Kind is a coming of age story that will have readers feeling every emotion on the spectrum. This book is one of those books that you sit around and think about long after you've finished it. It makes you think, it makes you feel and makes you question your own ideas about forgiveness, bigotry, survival, friendship and many other things. A heart felt novel that readers will likely never forget.



What I liked:



Do you know what a divining rod is? It's generally a stick with two forks that allows a person to find water. But the magic isn't in the wood, it's in the person. Donna Everhart's character, Sonny Creech is a 12 year old girl, living in the south in the 1950s. She loves the land and she has a gift for finding water. But as the reader will quickly find out, she has a lot of other gifts as well. Everhart tells a story of a little girl whose family falls on hard times and must go to extreme links to survive. 



This character was a real spitfire. I loved Sonny so much. As I read the book it became about so much more than a coming of age novel. Sonny taught me a lot about not only forgiveness but also friendship, family and the ties that bind that might be invisible but are strong and resilient. She taught me about remembering what matters and about standing up for what you believe even when your twelve and the evil in the world not only knocks at your door but moves right in.



Sonny's family is in crisis. The death of her father and a drought have put them in a position that many don't survive. Sonny's mother has to make some difficult decisions that ultimately change the course of their lives. Sadly, she believes all along that she has no other choice. This woman would literally do anything to provide for her family to do what she thinks is best for them. When a neighbor offers the only solution at hand, she does what she has to.The consequences become dire. I felt for Violet so much. I'm a single mother and there were times I didn't know what to do either. You make sacrifices and you pray and you trust that good things will happen, but sometimes they don't. I think there will be many readers who relate to this situation especially today when the world might appear to have changed a lot, but has it?



I thought a lot about what it means to forgive someone when I was reading this book. I thought about what the Bible says about forgiving a person 70 x 7, which is to say, just keep on forgiving. Are there things that people do that we just can't forgive? Or is there some undefined line in the sand. I also thought about what they say about forgiveness and that it is more for you than it is the person you are forgiving. This book is very thought provoking. This just scratches the surface of all of the things a person could potentially find in this book that will cause them to question. This is an emotional one and rightly so. 



Another very important aspect of this book for me was Sonny's relationship with her friend Daniel. I loved Daniel. He was smart and funny and sweet, but he was "different" and that made him a target. Isn't that sad to you? It is to me. Our differences are what make us unique and special. They define us as a person. It's painful for me to envision a world that does not celebrate that, but one that hates and ridicules it. But that's the world they lived in and the one we live in too. It's time to change, do you think? I loved the way Sonny had Daniel's back no matter what. I want to be a friend like that. It's not just in childhood that we have that kind of hard love, we can have it in our own relationships if we want to fight for it. 



What I didn't Like:



Well the easy thing to say that I didn't like about this book was the bigotry, the violence, Frank Fowler, the menacing neighbor. But that's all surface stuff. I don't think those are things you can dislike in this instance. I very much liked that the author tackled some really big issues, from racism to homophobia. I liked that she was stark and honest and showed the real gritty southern roots she probably grew up with. I know I did. That stuff happened in my life time and it is still happening. So we might not like that it makes a book a little dark or maybe it makes it a little hard to read. But we have to those are the kind of books that matter.



Some readers read to forget the things that go on in the world. They want fluffy, happy, sappy books. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Books are as much for escape and relaxation as anything else. For some this one will be too much. You know your preferences. You know what you can handle as a reader. Use wisdom when choosing what to read, but also take a chance and read something out of your comfort zone sometimes. I'd suggest this one. 



I will say that there are definitely trigger warnings in this book. Some readers are advised to use caution if you've had traumatic experiences related to these kinds of topics. Everhart does an amazing job of describing situations in detail and that can be hard for those who have suffered similar fates. 



Bottom Line:



Wow! This was soooo well written. It oozed southern vibes. It was frank. It was honest. It was hard to read but it was so thought provoking and relevant to today's world. Sonny was an amazing character that readers will not soon forget. It was about family and friendship, right along with racism and bigotry. It was dark, but Sonny was the light. Can't say enough good things about this one folks. Give it a read. Well worth your time.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed this book-the story, characters and writing were excellent.
It would make a great movie.
I would definitely read another book by this author.
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Wow! The Forgiving Kind is a page turning coming of age story set in the South in the 1950’s. I loved the story of Sonny and her family. Donna Everhart did a magnificent job bringing the characters to life for me with the dialect and descriptive writing. I found myself glued to the pages, reading furiously yet not wanting the story to end. Five stars!!!
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4.5 stars
“Even when you believe someone else might be in the wrong, sometimes the best way is to simply forgive them. Don’t you think?”

What exactly does it mean to be the forgiving kind? What does it take to forgive? Is there a line beyond which you could no longer forgive another person? And do the same standards apply if you have to forgive yourself? 

These were all questions I pondered after reading Donna Everhart's terrific novel The Forgiving Kind but although the title suggests forgiveness would be the major theme I'm not so sure. The book forced me to think upon so many other things - the family's love of the land and each other, the difficulties of being a farmer, grief, survival at (almost) any cost, familial love, bigotry, domestic violence and so much more. In fact it was difficult to pinpoint any one specific element as the stand out because it was so well executed throughout. 

From the first page the narrator, twelve year old Sonny, makes clear her love of the land.  Daddy said the land’s soaked into me the way blood soaks into wood, a permanent, everlasting mark. Almost immediately there is a tragedy which steals her much loved father from the family tipping their world upside down. In the wake of this trauma life becomes tough and then tougher still. 

Throughout Sonny's voice was perfect. She may only have been twelve but don't be mistaken this was not young adult fiction. Then again she wasn't one of those twelve year old's with more wisdom than her years should allow. She was at times insightful yet naïve at others. She wanted her parents to be proud of her. She wanted things to be the way they were before. She despaired of some of the decisions her mother made. She loved her friend Daniel fiercely yet innocently, and loathed her new step father equally passionately. Her struggles, and those of the family, felt real and invoked in me a range of emotions including happiness, sadness, anger, love, hatred, disappointment, anxiety and relief.

Every once in a whole you discover a book (or in this case get recommended a book - thanks Angela) which ticks all the boxes - story, characters, writing. I hope you'll try this one for yourself, especially if you enjoyed books like One Good Mama Bone or If The Creek Don't Rise.

My sincere thanks to the author, to Kensington Books, and to NetGalley for the opportunity of reading this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review which it was my pleasure to provide.
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