Nora's final request before she passed was for her husband to return to Kentucky. Samuel Zelinsky and his family lived as sharecroppers in a small Kentucky town for three years. During that time, Samuel made friends that would stay with him for the rest of his life. But Samuel hasn't seen or spoken to any of them for decades. Now in his seventies, he's finally returned to the old farm and is forced to face the memories of so long ago.
My own synopsis here doesn't do this book anywhere near the credit it deserves but I kind of felt that the one on the book gave away a bit more than I'd have liked it to. You can read the official copy here on Goodreads if you like.
My husband and I listened to Justin Halpern's Shit My Dad Says on one of our road trips back home, so the fact that A Far Piece to Canaan was the debut novel by the dad from Shit My Dad Says meant that curiosity alone was enough to land this book on my must read list. Even with the name recognition there to prompt me to read this one, I had pretty much no idea what to expect.
And while I didn't know what to expect with A Far Piece to Canaan, I can say that I did not expect this! Sam Halpern's debut is in fact a heartfelt and enthralling read, one that he's apparently been working on for decades.
Halpern smoothly transitions between present day passages and flashbacks, switching into what the character calls "hillbilly" speak when he reminisces about his time in Kentucky. Not only was it a clever way to clearly switch between timelines, but it definitely set the tone and the sense of place more firmly in the my mind as the reader.
A Far Piece to Canaan is reminiscent at times of The Body/Stand By Me (your pick, King's story or the movie based on it) and other similar coming-of-age stories strongly focused on the bonds of friendship. Readers trust me when I say this is an exceptional story and a book you will fall in love with. In fact, I dare you not to try!
(Check out this interview Justin Halpern did with his father for Tablet online.)
To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on Sam Halpern, head over and like his Facebook page.