The Gods of Green County

A drama rooted in injustice and mental health plays out over many years in rural Arkansas in Mary Elizabeth Pope's stark debut.

In 1926, Coralee Harper returned to her family home after a failed first marriage shortly before her brother, Buddy, was killed by the sheriff. Coralee "always could see things," so at first it wasn't a surprise when she would see Buddy in the yard at night. She worked, married Earl Watkins and tried to move on. But as the years go by, Coralee begins to show other erratic behavior, in addition to seeing Buddy again. Earl comes to believe that the only way he can make sure Coralee and their son are both cared for is to have Coralee committed to a mental hospital. Her sanity hearing puts her before Judge Leroy Harrison, who, as a young lawyer, defended the sheriff who killed Coralee's brother.

The Gods of Green County is a harsh tale of people put in conflict by their searches for justice and mutual welfare. Judge Harrison wants to atone to Coralee for not giving her brother justice all those years before, but is torn over whether she would be a danger to herself and others if not committed. Stumbling across a new lead on a witness, he uses every tool he has to uncover what really happened when Buddy died, but the cost may be surprisingly high. This bleak novel about the dangers of power will grip readers from beginning to end. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

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