Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

It's Wednesday, everyone! And today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Wiley Cash's latest, The Last Ballad.

Ella May wanted nothing more than to be able to afford to take care of her kids. Her life was a hard one, working six nights a week at one of the local mills for just $9 a week. And that was just enough to pay the rent and not much else. Her husband left her after they lost a son and Ella has been left to fend for herself and her four kids alone. 

But when rumblings of union organizing begin, Ella saw hope. And it was that hope that led her to join up, to protest the terrible conditions she and others like her suffered. And ultimately it's what led to her death. 

Wiley Cash's latest is set in 1929 and is based on the very real Loray Mill Strike in Gastonia, North Carolina. Cash allows the story to unfold through Ella May's voice as well as others around her. In fact, the story begins with Ella May and then jumps forward seventy-six years to 2005 where her eldest daughter has resolved herself to telling her mother's story to her now grown nephew.

But the story stays mostly in 1929, told through the eyes of a fallen man, a mill owner and his wife and daughter, a black man from New York, and others. Through these characters, we get not only a look inside Ella May's final days but a look inside the political and cultural issues that ultimately led to much needed change. But it was change that did not come about easily.

Cash is one of my favorite new authors. Each of this stories features a wonderful sense of character and of place. And this latest has that added layer of history as well. His prose makes for rich and intense reading each and every time.

The Last Ballad is not an easy read. In fact, it's the kind that will no doubt make you realize how far we still have to go considering the current atmosphere around us. But it is a hopeful read, one that pays heed to the heroic efforts of real people through the lens of fiction.

The Last Ballad is the perfect read for anyone with an interest in American history. It's also a great book club pick - I can see lots of potential and meaty discussion around this one. And of course, The Last Ballad is sure to please fans of Cash's previous novels. If you haven't had the chance to read him yet, I definitely recommend doing so soon!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Wiley Cash and his work you can visit his website here. You can also follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Books like this show how far we've come and, as you point out, how far we still have to go.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!