by Sean Dietrich
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Pub Date 14 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 14 Dec 2023
Sometimes it’s the most unlikely meetings that give us life’s greatest gifts.
1970s, Southern Alabama. Sixty-two-year-old Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, or “Nub,” has spent his whole life listening to those he loves tell him he’s no good—first his ex-wife, now his always-disapproving daughter. Sure, his escapades have made him, along with his cousin and perennial sidekick, Benny, just a smidge too familiar with small-town law enforcement, but he’s never harmed anyone—except perhaps himself.
Nub never meant to change his ways, but when he and fifteen-year-old Waffle House waitress Minnie form an unlikely friendship, he realizes for the first time that there may be some good in him after all. Six-foot-five Minnie has been dealt a full deck of bad luck—her father is a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, her mother is dead and buried, and she has a Grand Ole Opry–worthy singing voice with no place to perform. Oh, and there’s the small fact that she’s unexpectedly pregnant, courtesy of a no-good high-school boy.
Gradually, Nub realizes the gift he’s been given: a second chance to make a difference.
Beloved Southern writer Sean Dietrich, also known as Sean of the South, once again brings people and places to life in this lyrical song-turned-story about found family, second chances, country music, and the poignant power of love and forgiveness.
- Heartwarming Southern fiction from Sean of the South
- Stand-alone novel
- Includes discussion questions for book clubs
- Also by Sean Dietrich: The Incredible Winston Browne, Stars of Alabama, and You Are My Sunshine
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 55 members
This is literally one of the best books I’ve ever read. Couldn’t put it down! Sean Dietrich is an excellent writer, especially if you like/identify with Southern themed books. Nub’s compassion towards Minnie, the stories about the Ryman and country music, family tensions, and time period it was taking place all make this a great read. Excellently written. Don’t skip this one!!!
Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy
Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich is the thoroughly enjoyable story of Nub Taylor who hasn’t had the easiest of lives and hasn’t been easy on those in his life.
Nub had musical talent and he had opportunities, but drink got in the way of that and perhaps his time in the War was the reason for the drinking problems. He was a disappointing husband to Loretta and an embarrassment of a father to Emily and not much of an employee either.
Set in small-town Alabama, Kinfolk is a detailed and interesting exploration of southern people, their relationships and mid-70s rural-Alabama culture.
Nub turns his life around after an especially problematic drinking session and a chance encounter when he sees a local teenage boy harassing Minnie, a girl who works in a local Waffle House. AA meetings help, a blossoming relationship with the bar maid who also attends AA, and Minnie who turns out to be 15, pregnant to that boy who was harassing her and newly-orphaned. Minnie proves to be a talented singer and Nub encourages her to achieve the dreams he once had.
Nub is a likeable drunk and the reader quickly sides with him in the neighbourly and family disputes as well as his brushes with the law.
There’s a parallel plot that involves a newly-released prisoner, the mafia from which he stole and hid a serious load of cash and their intention to get that cash back by threatening Minnie, but I think I shouldn’t write much more about that, other than to say it adds some excitement and tension to the story.
I really enjoyed reading this well-constructed story. The characters are well-developed as are the eb
Sean Dietrich does it again! A great story of second chances and redemption that will leave you with a smile on your face.
One of the best hearwarming and emotional roller coaster book I've read. Simply has to be in the top 3 of all time. The essence of the book has been wonderfully summarized,according to me, in the author's own words: "But then, life was full of overlooked miracles. And miracles never happen the way you expect them to. They are softer than a baby’s breath. They are, at times, as noticeable as a ladybug. A miracle is not a big thing. A miracle is millions and millions of small things working together. But then, this didn’t matter. Not really. Because Minnie had come to believe that life was not about finding miracles, or happiness, or success, or purpose, or about avoiding disappointment. It was about find-ing people. People are what make life worth it. People are the
buried treasure. People who understand you. People who will bleed with you. People who make your life richer. Your people.
Extremely powerful and definitely a winner.
What can I say about Kinfolk? My, my, there is so much.
It was filled with a lot of hope, a lot of kindness. It was about people who had made a mess of life, who had caused too much pain, disappointment, and grief to feel like they could ever make it right.
A man realises that he's made mistakes and hurt people, but he has the incredible courage to start healing, and moving onward. Deciding that despite what he'd done in the past, today he could do something good and kind. He might not be able to undo all he'd done, but he could help others instead of being crushed by his own failure. It's really a story of how to became strong enough for someone else, to help them not make the same mistakes.
And it wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. And not everyone thanked him for it.
But he kept going, and when he turned around, he saw that he had made something beautiful, that would outlast his own life. A different legacy than the one his regret and shame told him he would leave.
The questions and themes this book brought to the surface were so powerful. How many lives can you touch when you try to change something that looks unchangeable? How can you accept love when you feel like you don't deserve it? How can you make the world better than when you found it?
The raw dynamics between the characters is what made it so alive. It must have been so courageous to write this. Completely vulnerable, no callouses for cover. It was real, and exposed, and beautifully woven. Truly incredible bravery is not so readily seen in such works, and I have gratitude to the author for writing such a courageous work.
I have read all of Sean Dietrich's book and have loved all of them....however....he has surpassed himself with this book! Rich with emotions and characters, this book will resonate long after you've read the last page. I laughed, cried and cheered throughout the entire book and against my better judgement, finished it in one day...I really didn't want the book to end. Kudos Mr. Dietrich and please don't wait so long to write you next GREAT READ!!! This book deserves 20+ stars!
This book was an absolute page turner. I had to finish the book in one setting. I instantly feel in love with every character. The story was so interesting and I loved the way that Sean dealt with everyday life problems. The book teaches so much about suicide and the effects on everyone not just the person. The book was exceptional well written and planned out. I can’t wait for other readers to read this book.,Keep writing and telling your story Sean of the South.
Sometimes a book paints a picture that resonates with your past. The portrayal of a small Alabama town in the 1960's is vivid and wrenching. If you grew up in the south during this period you will recognize many of these people, you just called them by different names.
Nothing is held back here, alcoholism, suicide, racism, crime, love and loss are all woven into the landscape of life in this era. The characters are so embraceable, Nub has a good heart, but alcohol and a dark family legacy keep him from a life with his daughter and on the edge of society.
Emily wants to love her Father, but the level of abandonment and humiliation over her lifetime looms large.
Minnie has been abandoned all her life, even when she lived with her mother.
Dietrich has woven all these personalities and the times into a book that will grab your heart. It's hard to put down once you start, the writing is mesmerizing and you feel part of the conversation.
This book is many things. It has laugh out loud humor and poignant scenes that make me cry but what it really has is larger than life character Nub, hero and hellion. When we first know Nub he’s a raging alcoholic, separated from almost everyone he loves. Nothing he’s done in his life is positive, his daughter grows up without him, and he leaves a trail of destruction everywhere he goes. Until he meets a 15 yr old who is an orphan, alone, unloved and pregnant. When he decides to help Minnie, putting her first, changes sweep into his life. He’s sober for the first time, gets to know his daughter all over again, and discovers life can be very different.
This is a novel of love, a novel of what the human spirit can endure, a novel of loving family who aren’t always related to you. Above all this is a novel not to be missed.
Kinfolk is my first Sean Dietrich novel, by it certainly won’t be my last. I loved the southern setting, the gloomy but hopeful tone, and the writing which included funny metaphors and similes (i.e. “Waffle House was like the Vatican, only with better hash browns.” Or, “The motor idled like a man choking to death.”)
The story starts with death and shows the ripple effects of suicide and grief. Heartbreak is woven throughout the narrative, but there is a hopeful undertone that keeps you turning the pages to see how it will all turn out ok in the end. This is a story full of outcasts, those who everyone else has given up on. It is a story of redemption, second chances, found family, and community. I loved it.
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Muse for the advanced review copy. All opinions are my own.
Another wonderful, uplifting, well written story of those on the fringes of what most people consider normal. No one - and I mean NO ONE - can tell their story like Sean Dietrich!
As always, a humorous, heartwarming and encouraging look into the innate goodness of man.
I was most grateful to get this early readers’ review copy from Net Galley and the publisher, Harper Muse, in exchange for an unbiased review. This book and all previous books by Sean Dietrich are highly recommended for all ages.
Kinfolk... the people who are related to you by blood. But sometimes, it is so much more than that. Sean Dietrich has done it again. I adore his way with words. There is always a gift in them and I am so grateful that I got the chance to read/listen to this story, read by the author himself. It is the story of Nub Taylor, Minnie Bass, and the folks they call family. Nub is the town drunk. His child is in her forties and they are estranged. His ex-wife hates him and the town of Park, Alabama (population around 1000), hates him too. Minnie is a very tall young lady who is an outcast, as she is as poor as they come. And in the seventies, Nub and Minnie will find each other. In the process, they will find family, and, just maybe, bring some healing to themselves and their town. I laughed out loud so many times during the telling. I also dabbed my eyes and wished it wouldn't end. When I realized I was moments from finishing it, I wanted to rewind and listen some more. Dietrich has a gift, and I am so grateful he shares it with us. Thanks to #NetGalley and the publisher. #Kinfolk
Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, Nub to all who know him, has seen a lot of living. Not all of it good. Years of too much drinking have gotten him in too much trouble to list, but losing his wife and the respect of his daughter were the hardest. After an accident that should have killed him, Nub shares a hospital room with fifteen year old Minniford Hazel Bass. While her singing greatly annoys the grumpy old man, she somehow gets under his skin and soon he’s become her savior, but can a leopard change his spots. His daughter, Emily, is going through her own crisis at the moment and thinks he’s crazy! How can he be there for Minnie when he was never there for her? When Nub takes Minnie in he has no idea how much things are about to change or how much he’s bitten off, not to mention the danger he and Minnie are now in. Is it too late for Nub to change or does he finally have the chance to redeem himself after all these years? This was a heartwarming, beautiful story about change, redemption and unconditional love. Once again Dietrich takes us on an unforgettable journey. A journey that will make you laugh out loud, shed some tears, but most of all give you hope. A dual read/listen, this book was voiced perfectly by the author himself, this book is not one that will be forgotten anytime soon as he brings this powerful story to life showing us that love and forgiveness are the most important things of all! Thank you to Harper Muse and Netgalley for an ARC AND ALC of this book.
Absolutely loved the authors note at the end and the couple of scattered facts about The Ryman and Grand ol Opry that are incorporated into the story.
My second novel by this author and absolutely love his ability to tell a small town story that has every emotion present. You will gasp, cry, feel fear, mystery, joy and much more.
Love before her, Love behind her, Love above her, Love beneath her.
Love on the crown of her head, Love on the soles of her feet, Love way down in her heart.
These are the words/song that start the relationship between “Nub” Jeremiah Taylor and “Minnie” Minifred Bass and so it’s appropriate that these words close out their story as well. Story gives segments of several characters and weaves all these characters lives together beautifully. I loved the characters and that they each have flaws, and are so relatable.
Can’t recommend this book enough!! Please check it out!!
Thanks to Netgalley, the author and Harper Muse for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Thanks NetGalley for the ARC of Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich, published by Harper Muse.
I just loved this novel, something about the characters, the writing style, the story, the setting. The author really made it all come together. It's full of heartache, betrayal, death, regrets but also love and people helping people. I never wanted to put this novel down. It made me laugh out loud and cry real tears. I was so attached to Minnie and Nub as characters, but loved them all. I would read another novel like this in a heartbeat. Absolutely unforgettable!
I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read this novel
I feel I must start this review with a disclaimer. Sean Dietrich is my favorite present day author. With that being said, I do try to be objective when I am reading a book for review purposes. If I hadn't been reading this for review, however, my reaction and review would be the same.
Sean Dietrich, also known as Sean of the South, writes from the heart. Whoever said that writers write what they live would reinforce this idea after reading Sean Dietrich's latest book - "Kinfolk". Full of emotion and characters who are so real the reader feels that they are best friends by the end of the book, this book is one that is easily read in one sitting. Once I started it, I just could not stop.
The book starts with a very difficult scene - a suicide and the grief that follows in a small Alabama town in the 1970's. If you are familiar with Mr. Dietrich's back story you can understand that that is a real and personal subject matter to him and one that he writes about often. But just like the author, the main character, Nub, is able to overcome the sadness and the life situation that he found himself in and is eventually able to live a life with love and happiness.
This is not an easy book to read at times due to the themes of alcoholism, suicide, loss, racism, and crime but the overall theme is love and that is indeed the message that the reader comes away with in the end. Redemption prevails as a strong theme and what a joy it is to read this book to see how the story unfolds.
The author has a unique way of telling a story. His true Southern charm bleeds through every page and his witty descriptions had me laughing out loud several times. He definitely knows how to evoke an image in your mind as you read with his descriptions.
The main characters, Nub, Emily and Minnie are so well defined and described that it was easy to fall in love (and sometimes dislike) at their antics and actions. They are just plain folk who are the type of folks that we run into every single day in our lives. Thankfully these were ones that were not ignored and it reminded me that each and every person has worth and value in this world despite their circumstances. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.
If you have the chance to read this book I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy. Better yet, get an audiobook so you can hear the author read it to you in his own voice. This was one that I listened to at regular speed and did not speed up because I wanted to enjoy every drawn out word and hear every inflection of Mr. Dietrich's voice.
Huge thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me an advance copy for review. This is my honest review of Kinfolk.
A Southern tale that will bring both laughter and tears. Sean Dietrich is indeed an amazing storyteller. The Garrison Keillor of the South.
From the tragic beginning to the triumphant end, this is one humdinger of a tall tale. Full of southern culture from the early 1970's, with unique characters that will wind themselves around your heart until you can't stop thinking about them. I loved Minnie and Nub. You can't help but root for them. Nub is the ultimate underdog hero. They both show how a small act of kindness can turn into something bigger, begin the healing of old wounds, and bring second chances. Father-daughter relationships are featured in a unique way. Alcoholism and its destructive wake are explored.
Recommend to readers who enjoy a well-written story of second chances. 4.5 stars
This is such a neat story!
It has sadness, fear, love and redemption as we see "Nub" who has spent time "away" and now finds he is not as "hard" as he thought. Can he make things right in this life?
He has a second chance to change a young girls world and others.
Now... will he?
It's southern charm with a heart! I loved it!
Thank you to @NetGalley and to @Harper Muse for this wonderful ARC and allowing me to provide my own review of this novel..
Kinfolk has everything I look for in a book - it is powerful, it has diverse and well developed characters, it has a perfect balance of conflict and suspense, it made me laugh out loud, and it held my interest throughout. Sean Dietrich has a true talent for storytelling.
Nub Taylor is the town drunk. His wife left him, his daughter barely speaks to him and he can’t stop causing trouble wherever he goes. But deep down, Nub is a kindhearted soul who tries his best to do his best.
When 15-year old Minnie’s mom commits suicide and leaves a pregnant Minnie on her own, it’s Nub Taylor who steps in to care for her. He doesn’t have much, but he does have good friends and a forgiving daughter who see how hard he’s trying and together they care for Minnie and Minnie’s child.
Through some extremely difficult and challenging times, Nub gives Minnie the home and the love he wishes he would have given his own daughter, but he has redeemed himself in the eyes of his “kinfolk” and together they forge a loving family.
This book is emotionally satisfying in so many ways. The pages are filled with humor during difficult times and the enduring love of family. I highly recommend this one and give it 5 stars, though it deserves many more. Thank you, NetGalley and Harper Muse for the ARC. You can pick up a copy on November 14, 2023.
This book starts with stories of people who are not connected to one another, but the author weaves the story so they all come together in a beautiful tale! I loved every minute of this story! I’ve always been a fan of the author’s posts on social media, but this is the first novel of his that I’ve read. What a fabulous story! I laughed. I cried! 1000% loved it!
‘People are the buried treasure. People who make life richer. Your people. Your kinfolk'.
Jerimiah (Nub) is an alcoholic. Born and raised in small town Alabama, he has found an odd type of acceptance as the foolish town drunk, along with his cousin Benny. After his latest car crash sends him to the hospital, he meets Minnie Bass, a 6'5'' teenage girl who's just lost her mother and is due to be sent to a home for unwed mothers. Nub is oddly touched by Minnie. He can relate to her. It's time to get things right. But who's ever heard of a drunk old man, with a haphazard income, adopting a teenage, unwed mother?
'A miracle is not a big thing. A miracle is millions and millions of small things working together'. Kinfolk is not only a snapshot of small-town, Southern life in the 70s, it is a feel-good story of redemption. But Sean Dietrich has also sprinkled over a bit of sass and a secondary story of crime and mystery to round out a wholly engrossing and entertaining story. This is the type of story you could easily imagine as a movie and I think it will appeal to a range of readers who just enjoy a great story of beating the odds.
There are some books that just unexpectedly tug on your heartstrings and this is one of them. The characters, the story telling, and the love was just the story I needed, but didn’t know that I needed.
Thanks to Harper Muse and NetGalley for a digital advance reader's copy. All comments and opinions are my own. Expected publication date Nov 14, 2023.
Wow! Unputdownable! 5++ stars! I knew this would be good since I’ve read other books and columns by author Sean Dietrich, but this amazing story surpassed my expectations.
This skillfully written novel takes place in the 1970s, in a small Alabama town where everyone knows everything about everybody. One by one the characters are introduced to the reader. Some of their connections are explained from the beginning, some take a while before the connections become apparent. Everyone has grief or trauma in their life – either beyond their control or due to their own weaknesses. The more I read, the more the characters came to life, and I found myself caring about them and hoping for miracles.
Even though the novel begins with a death, the thread of hope connects each person, all of them outsiders struggling with challenges, longing for a life of stability and happiness. The development of these relationships is balanced with the powerful plot containing conflict, suspense, and danger.
Minnie, one of the main characters, shares the book’s message after the edge-of-your-seat climax: “Life was full of overlooked miracles. And miracles never happen the way you expect them to. They are softer than a baby’s breath. They are, at times, as noticeable as a ladybug. A miracle is not a big thing. A miracle is millions and millions of small things working together. But then, this didn’t matter. Not really. Because Minnie had come to believe that life was not about finding miracles, or happiness, or success, or purpose, or about avoiding disappointment. It was about finding people. People are what make life worth it. People are the buried treasure. People who understand you. People who will bleed with you. People who make your life richer. Your people. Your kinfolk.”
Themes of redemption and second chances, forgiveness, family, and hope. This is a heartwarming, feel-good story about love, country music, and kinfolk. Another one for my “favorites” list. I highly recommend!
Content warning for suicide, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, bullying, cancer.
I loved Kinfolk from the first word to the last word. I had so many emotions throughout this book. I laughed, cried, yelled out loud and cheered! I just this minute finished this glorious story, and I just want to go back and start reading from the beginning…all over again. The characters jump out at you and grab your heart, and I loved each and every one of them. “People Finding People” is a perfect description of this perfectly told story. Grab a copy now, you will not be sorry. Wish I could rate it 10 stars.
Thank You to NetGalley, The Author Sean Dietrich and The Publisher Harper Muse for allowing me the privilege of reading this story for my honest review..
Kinfolk is the fifth novel by American author Sean Dietrich. The first time that Jeremiah (Nub) Taylor encounters Minnie Bass, it’s just after Thanksgiving 1972 and, from the hospital bed opposite his, she’s disturbing his sleep as she comforts herself with a song her mama used to sing to her. Nub is there recovering from his drunken crash into the town’s water tower.
Not long after, he learns that Minnie, 6’5” but only fifteen, is a middle school dropout who works as a cook at the Waffle House. How, then, does a sixty-two-year-old divorced alcoholic whom many in the town of Park, in the tiny county of Ash, Alabama, see as white trash, decide to apply to foster this unfortunate teen?
Before she sank into alcoholism and took her own life on that fateful Thanksgiving, Celia Bass always told Minnie that the father she never knew died a hero in the Korean war when, in fact, Clarence (Sugar) Bass is just then being released after serving a fifteen-year sentence for manslaughter at the Draper Correctional Facility some miles to the south.
An accidental shooting during a robbery gone wrong isn’t going to help “the Organization” forget that Sugar Bass has $813,000 of their money, so he has a tail the moment he hits town. And the Organization’s wrath might be directed at family members if Sugar remains reticent about the location of the money.
High school biology teacher, widow and mother of teenaged Charlie Jr, Emily Ives has just been given an adverse diagnosis by her inept GP, and is trying to come to terms with her own mortality before she shares the news. But she is distracted, and a little chagrined, by the news that the father who abandoned her as a girl for his love affair with alcohol is planning to foster a fifteen-year-old girl.
It’s true that he is a good man: “He was whip-smart, for starters. And he was heart-stoppingly sincere. His greatest quality, however, was that he had the audacity to be himself, for better or worse”, but what qualifies her alcoholic parent to do this?
Nub understands he will have to be sober “He knew it meant that he would have to face the jaggedness of life without alcohol to round its edges” and he realises, after some weeks that way “It had been a long time since he’d felt the hotness of his own anger without alcohol to dull its spiked edges.”
Dietrich really does have a talent for creating a wonderful cast of characters who easily find their way into readers’ hearts. They are a flawed bunch but he gives them wise words and insightful observations: when Nub eventually shares with Minnie the one thing they have in common, a parent ending their own life, she tells him “When someone shoots themself, they kill a lot more than just them.”
Dietrich has a marvellous turn of phrase: “Benny crept down the hall toward the cabinet. He opened the door so slowly that Nub celebrated four birthdays.” Childbirth, concerts, a housefire, an exploding mobile home, a hospital shooter and at least three near-death moments all feature and, even though the plot is at times heart-breaking, there’s plenty of humour, especially in the dialogue: “Benny,” said Nub. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re kind of embarrassing me.”
“Thanks. That means a lot coming from a professional.”
A feel-good ending is always welcome: “Minnie had come to believe that life was not about finding miracles, or happiness, or success, or purpose, or about avoiding disappointment. It was about finding people. People are what make life worth it. People are the buried treasure. People who understand you. People who will bleed with you. People who make your life richer. Your people. Your kinfolk.”
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Harper Muse.
Rural poor Alabama where life is rarely fair 15 year old Minnie struggles at home, quits school to work and help pay rent until she finds herself alone. Nub just couldn’t make a good decision if his life depended on it (and routinely does). Until people are placed in your life at the right time and make you see yourself and things in a whole other light. Heartwarming , sad, disturbing, hopeful, suspenseful —. All the perfect feels for an outstanding book.
Thank you to Harper Muse for the ARC!
Fine Southern Fiction that’s not the same old thing.
“Kinfolk” is my first book by Sean Dietrich but it won’t be the last. His characters are SO well developed and have deep, complex relationships that were wonderful to explore. Dietrich nailed the setting and time period, taking me back to my younger days.
The sub theme involving music was a special treat for this retired musician. Country music isn’t my favorite genre but the love, passion and ability to draw folks together along with the healing abilities is universal; it’s well portrayed.
This is a small southern town with memorable characters that are worthy of another book, (or two?), Excellent plotting with steady pacing, PG rated and and ending you won’t see coming but will remember for a long
Read & Reviewed from a Harper Muse/First Editions ARC
When Nub Taylor decides to initiate a drunken car chase in Park (temporarily renamed Papk), Alabama, he ends up in the hospital next to 15-year-old Minnie Bass, who has just lost her mother due to suicide. Theirs is an unlikely friendship, for Nub can't even stay sober long enough to have a relationship with his actual daughter, Emily, who has just received a terminal cancer diagnosis. In a series of events that can only happen in a small town, Nub applies to be Minnie's foster parent. But there are secrets that are about to be revealed that will change everyone forever.
I started this last night and finished it this morning. I would give it ten stars if I could, and I will, when I post this on my blog, where I can give as many stars as I want. This is an amazing story of love, forgiveness, redemption, and second chances. The Southern small-town cast of characters is a delight. Throw in bullies, organized crime, and a mysterious protector, and this is a book you won't want to put down. I laughed and sobbed. That's how good this was. I want to read everything this author has ever written. If you love Southern Fiction, read this! If you love Small Town fiction, read this. If you love redemptive stories about found family, read this! If you want to laugh and cry, read this. Read it. You won't be disappointed. I loved it so much I've already preordered the audiobook.
I received a free copy of this book from Harper Muse via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.
At 63% … audio is narrated by the author. He does an amazing … and I’m loving the book as well.
Finished … OMG … I love this book so much! Longer review to follow. I would encourage anyone with extra audible credits to order this one. Listening via audio is the only way! (Narrated by the author who has an amazing singing voice.)*
* This is the longer review ...
I absolutely loved loved Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich.
Nub ... the town drunk and Minnie a 15 year old who drops out of school and is working as a chef at the local Waffle House end up crossing paths. Both down on their luck; both with musical talent; both lost a parent to suicide (as did the author) at a young age.
Sean Dietrich (the author) does an amazing job narrating (and singing) this audio. The Audie Awards are in March, I sure hope he is in the running. In my opinion, this audiobook is that good.
Nub's sidekick is his cousin. OMG ... the number of times I burst out laughing with this book!
Kinfolk was my second book by Sean Dietrich; I remember reading my first Sean Dietrich novel in line to get Covid tested. Anyway ... I much preferred Kinfolk. Possibly the 1 hour plus wait for a covid test had something to do with my mindset at the time.
Many (MANY!) thanks to NetGalley for introducing me to author Sean Dietrich and Harper Muse for approving my request to review the advance listen audiobook in exchange for an honest review. The publication date is Nov 14, 2023. The last day to be eligible for the 2023 GoodReads Readers Choice voting. I sure hope this book is in the running, because it definitely would have my vote. I've been raving about this book on Facebook. Give this book several chapters, then you'll be hooked. (I wanted to read this book so desperately, I requested both the audio and electronic version, I opted to listen. The way to go on this one!) 5 stars ... but more if I could.
Living in the fictional town of Park, Alabama, in 1972, sixty-something absentee father, Nub, has been perpetually drunk since his father’s suicide in 1921. He’s annoying and no one likes him, but if there is one generous truth, it’s that he’s ‘heart-stoppingly sincere’, has no tolerance for meanness, and will defend the vulnerable with everything he’s got. Sitting in an idling truck outside his daughter’s house on Thanksgiving is the closest he can come to celebrating with her. A car chase with the local deputy ends in a collision with Park’s water tower that he and cousin Benny have, ironically, almost finished painting.
At six-foot-five, fifteen-year-old Minnie passes for nineteen, is a target for persecution simply because she’s different, dirt poor, and happens to be pregnant by her most determined tormentor. When she’s informed that her mom has committed suicide, she passes out, hits her head, and is transported to hospital. Her self-soothing crooning irritates the old man in the next bed, who is trying to sleep after smashing up both his truck and his inebriated body. As Dietrich works his magic on random encounters, this becomes the axis around which the young mother-to-be’s destiny plays out.
Dietrich’s latest gem combines his trademark wit and compassion. Using short, unadorned sentences, there is a timeless universality to the way in which he conjures ordinary people scarred by hardscrabble lives. His prose has a familiarity and gentle reverence for his cast members, allowing each their moment in the sun. Minnie’s artistic coming-of-age is profound and uplifting, while Nub’s life-changing decision puts him back in touch with his feelings and those of everyone around him. Reminiscent of his previous novels, and skillfully date-stamped in the early Seventies, Dietrich’s keen observations of his native Alabama underscore a natural love of life-affirming storytelling.
I love the stories of “Sean of The South” and was so excited to get this book. He is a master storyteller and word artist. This novel was powerful, inspirational and SO heartwarming. I loved Nub and his second chance.
Many thanks to Harper Muse and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Read this book as soon as you can! Don't miss out on this great new book from Sean Dietrich.
Do you like a book that moves you to tears? One full of great characters?
"It's early 70's in Park, Alabama. There's Nub Taylor (he's 5'2") He's a drunk (or an alcoholic if you're not from the South) His ex-wive dismisses him and his grown daughter can't stand him. He meets Minnie Bass. She's 6'5" and 15-years-old and working as a cook at Waffle House. She has an Opry kevel singing voice. She's pregnant and headed to foster care after her mother commits suicide. Nub wants to do something right and sets out to help Minnie. There's Sugar Bass. He's on parole but the criminals he used to work for want something back. They don't care who they have to hurt to get it."
I love characters that fight against all that life throws at them and prevail. Especially the ones that start with nothing or less than nothing. But using the gifts and talents they have, they climb out of bad situations and poverty and make a life.
Several times, Dietrich brought me to tears. People just stared at me in the grocery store while I listened to the audio and sobbed. I felt terrible for these fictional characters. But like me, you probably know people like this.
Dietrich makes you fall in love with these characters and makes them feel real.
I wish he hadn't included the 1972 Iron Bowl - the Punt, Bama, Punt game. 50 years later Auburn fans still talk about that game.
There is a Brad. He's an usher at First Baptist Church. Nub rear-ended his car at a red light.
This is now my book of the year. Don't miss it.
Kinfolk is Sean Dietrich‘s newest heartwarming and heartbreaking Southern fiction novel set in a fictional Alabama city and county. The author is primarily known for his daily uplifting column written under Sean of the South. Kinfolk is told in third person POV featuring four main characters using authentic Southern dialect. The chapters are short, similar to James Patterson’s story-telling.
Kinfolk begins in 1921 with a desperate tobacco farmer deciding to take his own life, leaving behind his beloved wife and 11-year-old. Then the story picks up in 1970s south Alabama with the 11-year-old boy grown into a 62-year-old alcoholic ne’er-do-well, Jeremiah Lewis “Nub” Taylor. Nub’s wife, Loretta, divorced him when their daughter, Emily, was small due to his drinking, and Emily has had very little contact with him. Part of Nub’s problems stem from his mother sending him to an insane asylum after his father’s suicide because she couldn’t deal with her own grief, and partly because he had difficulty adjusting to the freedom of civilian life after a stint in the Navy. Nub’s cousin, Benny, is his best friend and co-worker at the Ash County Maintenance Department. One of Nub and Benny’s escapades was to not complete the “R” on the city’s water tower so that it reads “PAPK” instead of “PARK”.
Nub lives alone in the house that he grew up in, surrounded by land that formerly grew tobacco. There are abandoned outbuildings and overgrown woods. Nub and Benny hang out in the evenings at the local American Legion, where they drink and talk to a sweet bartender, Lee Ann. Then one night Nub is pursued by a local Sheriff’s deputy during a snowstorm and crashes his truck into a tree, and winds up in the local hospital. Due to a power outage, the patients are crammed into one area of the hospital that is powered by generators. There he wakes up to hear his 15-year-old female roommate singing. Nub is unfriendly to her but her crying moves him so he asks her to sing some more.
15-year-old Minnie Bass is working at the Park Waffle House as a cook since her mother died of a drug overdose. Minnie believes that her father is dead, but actually Clarence “Sugar” Bass is in prison for manslaughter and is at the end of his 15-year sentence. Minnie is 6’ 5” so she was bullied by her classmates until she dropped out. A mean boy, Philip Beaner, tricked her into having sex with him and now she’s pregnant.
Nub has wrecked 17 vehicles over his lifetime so he’s now driving Benny’s dilapidated pick-up truck. Benny is unable to drive due to stroke. When Nub sees his former roommate, Minnie, walking down the road with her toes visible through her tennis shoes, he goes to K-Mart and buys the largest pair of Converse sneakers they have. Then he gives her his coat. Over time he spends more time with her and makes arrangements to become her foster parent.
Nub’s daughter, 44-year-old Emily Taylor Ives, is regretting past choices she made in her life. She hates that she gave up her beloved career and freedom to be the girlfriend of Charlie Ives. She hates that she continues his family tradition of hosting parties for the community all the time; she is really an introvert. She feels bad for letting her mom, Loretta, poison her against her dad. As her son, Charlie Jr., grows older, she regrets that they aren’t closer. Lastly she regrets giving up smoking cigarettes because Charlie Sr. thought it looked cheap; his last mistress was a smoker.
While Nub takes an interest in making sweet Minnie’s life better, Emily tries to reconcile with him. Then Emily has a health scare. Meanwhile Sugar Bass is released from prison and tries to keep an eye on his daughter, but really draws the mobsters after him straight to her.
Kinfolk is a great story filled with unforgettable characters. The reader sees that seemingly bad people have backstories and may be redeemable, and “good” people can be cruel. While Minnie’s circumstances are heartbreaking, there are many good things that happen to her. Minnie has an amazing singing voice and Nub tries to get her talent recognized. Benny is the hapless and witless sidekick to Nub’s take-charge character, and their dynamic adds a lot of humor to the story.
Anyone who is a fan of traditional country music or is a native Southerner will absolutely enjoy Kinfolk. There is no sex or profanity in the story so it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. There is a lot of cigarette smoking in the story and talk about drinking and alcoholism, but this story takes place in the 1970s when people were less health conscious. The language/phrasing used are all authentic to Alabama. Additionally the story contains many musical references. My absolute favorite parts of the book were the true history lessons sprinkled throughout the story.
I received an Advance Review Copy (ARC) from NetGalley and Harper Muse for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
Kinfolk by Sean Dietrich is very highly recommended Southern literary fiction that can be heartwarming, heartbreaking, and humorous. Kinfold is an excellent novel; one of the best of the year.
It is the 1970s in Park, Alabama, where Jeremiah Lewis Taylor, or “Nub,” 62, is a known town drunk and best friend of cousin Benny. An incident sends him to the hospital, where he first meets fifteen-year-old and six-foot-five Minnie, whose self-comforting singing wakes him up. He later discovers more about Minnie and decides to sober-up to foster her. At the same time Nub's daughter, Emily, learns some bad news that she is dealing with on her own and the man who is Minnie's father, Sugar Bass, has just been released from prison.
This whole cast of diverse, fully realized main characters come together with a supporting cast to create a complete picture of a specific time, place, and family. At the beginning, as the various characters are introduced, the narrative may seem a bit scattered, but everything will quickly begin to come together. The humor along with insight into the broken characters will grab your attention until the plot takes off, securely holding your rapt attention to the end.
At its heart Kinfolk is a masterful story of the family you have and the one you create. There is also a good dose of drama, threats, second chances, country music, redemption, forgiveness, love, and humor. The hilarious lines that show up throughout the story are appealing and help set the tone of the novel. Even when something bad is happening, humor can help with the pain. One of the earlier lines about the name for the special kind of person who signs up for a job at Waffle House is laugh-out-loud funny. That remark is followed rather quickly by another perfect quote, "Thanksgiving is about fulfilling family obligations and being miserable the way the good Lord intended."
I really loved Kinfolk. Filled with memorable characters in a captivating plot, it is one of the best books I've read this year.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Harper Muse via NetGalley.
The review will be published on BookBub, Edelweiss, X, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
The heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship and love between Nub and Minnie. This book as a roller coaster of emotions to read. It showed how people change and grow. I recommend giving this emotional story a read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This book is stunning. Southern fiction at its finest. Found family, second chances, redemption, and the messiest characters come together to make a beautiful story.
Nub is his small town’s drunk. He’s failed at marriage, failed at parenthood, and is failing at caring for himself. An unlikely friendship leads him to turn his life around. I fell in love with him and every character around him. The story is both tragic and hopeful and entirely heartfelt. It will break your heart but will put it back together in the most tender way. You will laugh and cry and cheer for Nub.
What a wonderful book!! This book is about second chances, love, found family, music and so much more. One would not think that a sixty year old drunk (Nub) could be the center of such a delightful story. Dietrich gives us characters we can relate to and we can cheer on. The grittiness of the characters and the setting help this book stand out.
Nub begins to take interest in a girl whose path he keeps crossing in not the best circumstances. Someone this teenage girl upsets what was once his balance of work, the American Legion bar and caring only about himself. Minnie brings out the best in Nub and he helps her find the best in herself. As the book says "miracles never happen the way you expect them to.....a miracle is millions and millions of small things working together"....that is what this book is....
I have to note that I loved the ode played to the Ryman tabenacle and the country music legends that played there. Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read this wonderful book. I plan on getting my own copy.
Thank you Netgalley and Harper Muse for access to this arc.
This book is a country and western song in the making. Most of the plot can probably already be found in various country and western songs. Well maybe not the C-4 but most of the rest. Love, drinking, regret, heartache, exes, anger, love, regret, drinking, singing, family, lost love, drinking, second chances, regret, drinking, family, prison, parole, drinking, love, and second chances. Yep, that about covers it.
If you are a Southerner, you will probably know, be related to or have someone like one of these people in your life. Said person has probably Been Discussed at family gatherings with a smile, a sigh, and/or some heavy eye rolling. “Lord, what is soandso up to now??” You might even be one of these characters. If you are not a Southerner, you will probably be horrified at these people. You might sneer, curl a lip in disgust, sniff disparagingly, and thank whatever power you believe in that you are not from here or related to anyone like them thankyouverymuch.
Though the book is laced with wry, deadpan humor – and I laughed Out Loud a whole bunch of times – there are some painful things as well. The book starts off with a load of them including a two suicides and a drunken rampage by Nub as he attempts to escape the long arm of the law. It doesn’t go well for him but frankly, he lives in a small town, works for the county government, and everyone knows where he lives so it wasn’t like he was going to evade anything. Sigh … sometimes the liquor drives Nub to do things he shouldn’t.
Nub knows he’s been a disappointment to his friends and family. But, in his defense, he has an Incident from his youth which was followed by a year in a youth asylum (because his mama couldn’t cope with the first Incident) that would leave lifelong wounds on most people much less an eleven year old boy. Nub knows he shouldn’t have done a lot that he’s done – heck the whole town knows it – but alcohol is a powerful mistress and Nub doesn’t seem to have an off-switch once he starts.
Minnie and Nub first meet in the hospital. It’s a small town with a small hospital so I didn’t bat an eye that an older man and teen girl would be recovering in the same room. Later when Nub sees Minnie being bullied by a teen snot – heck the whole town knows Philip is a little pissant – and his minions it lights a fire in Nub. He might have messed up being there for his own daughter but he’s going to help Minnie even if that requires filling out “thirty miles of documents” and attending a parenting class so he can foster this young teen who has no one. Everyone – including his daughter (who is a little jealous) and his ex – tells him he’s insane but Nub is a man on a mission.
Minnie is a sweet teen who has always been teased because of her height and who believed a pissant when he said he would love her if she just agreed to sex. Now she’s pregnant, an orphan and due to Nub’s sense of mission, finally in a home where she can relax, take hot showers, and wear clothes that fit and aren’t falling apart. She can’t believe her luck. Nub’s cat Wyatt likes her, too.
What no one knows is that Minnie’s father isn’t dead and is out on parole. Right, the man who worked for organized crime, ripped them off, and then accidentally killed a man leading to fifteen years in the slammer where his height and size made him a target. The men dressed all in black and driving a white caddy who follow Sugar make no attempt to evade Shug’s notice. That’s part of the intimidation. They also begin harassing Minnie – and by extension Nub – to mess with Shug and get their money back. But no one is messing with his daughter and if he has to camp out in the woods near Nub’s house and keep watch – and also get his hands on some C-4, as Shug was a demolition man in the Army – he will.
Emily Ives initially thinks her father is nuts to take on a foster teen. Emily is also a bit pissed that, through Minnie, Nub appears to want to make up for all he missed in Emily’s life. Emily is also hiding a secret that she discovered after dealing with yet another Thanksgiving from hell. Yet as she watches her father actually seem to reform himself – except for the smoking as you can only give up so much at a time as AA knows – Emily does what Southern women do, she brings food and tries to help including a wild ride to the hospital with a teen in labor in the backseat of her car.
Somehow all of the plot threads come together in the end. It’s wild but what else should I have expected from this book? As I mentioned earlier, I laughed my ass off at times and blinked back a tear at others. Some things cut close while many, many others brought me good memories as I know the South and I lived through 1972. Boomers and Gen Xers will know a lot of these things first hand. The book has sass, heart, and people triumphing over the odds against them. It will not be for everyone but I inhaled the 400 pages in two days and loved it. It will break your heart and then put it back together. A-
I really loved this story! The story was just incredible, and the characters were fantastic. I loved the ending--it brought me to tears! Highly recommend!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
This was my first book by Sean Dietrich and he did not disappoint! I’ve read a lot of books this year, but Kinfolk is definitely my favorite so far!
It’s the 1970s in Southern Alabama, the story follows Nub an alcoholic that is always with his cousin Benny. Nub changes his ways after he meets Minnie, a fifteen year old orphan. Not only does this story follow Nub, but it also follows Emily, nubs daughter, that always felt like she was last in her dad’s life.
This book has drama, crime, love, and family. It is one that should be on everyone's shelf. If I could give it 10 stars, I would.
Let me start with…I absolutely love when an author narrates their own book. It just makes it so real! And this book could not have been better! Kudos to Sean Dietrich!
Now on to the good stuff! This story is wonderful! The characters are fantastic. Nub is an old drunk but he has decided to mend his ways and take in Minnie, a young, 16 year old who has lost her family. Needless to say, it is not smooth sailing for the two of them. Minnie is pregnant and Nub realizes he has been given a second chance.
This is a story full of love, heartbreak and forgiveness and you do not want to miss it!
Need an emotional tale you will think about for days to come…THIS IS IT! Grab your copy today.
I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
What a wonderful story. The characters were so brilliant. Just so well thought out, yet brilliant. This book was way more than I thought it would be. Thanks Sean of the South for an amazing book.
I always enjoy a good historical fiction, and this one did not disappoint. Living in the south, I was able to relate to it as it took place in Southern Alabama. You hear real stories that are somewhat similar to this. Great storytelling, definitely a worth while read!