It is human nature to become caught up in the rhythm of life, forgetting that the essence of our beings originated long before we were born. Therefore, a family’s history can easily slip away if not nurtured and acknowledged. Parents want to protect their children from painful memories and the sometimes unfortunate realities of life. They might also be reluctant to admit their faults and transgressions to their progeny, perhaps believing that in order to be authority figures and role models; they have to bury certain aspects of their pasts. Children, on the other hand, might be so caught up in the business of growing up and discovering the world that they don’t think the historical accounts their parents have to offer are of any importance. They may not think to ask questions, or intuitively sense that their parents aren’t willing to share.
In this manner, the real story of John and Evelyn Hobson, matriarch and patriarch of J. Frank Dunkin’s novel, Bones of My Brother, is quite nearly lost. A loving, faith abiding couple, they raise their children, Kate and Price, in a happy home. Sometimes the children might wish their father smiled more often, but the War seems to be the explanation for his often despondent demeanor, and they don’t pry. Not until many years later, when Kate and Price have buried both their parents, do they begin to realize that there was much more to their family’s history than they could have imagined. A small bundle of old letters is unearthed, which is just the beginning of what ends up being a soul-searching odyssey for Price.
Bones of My Brother is a parallel account of Price’s current mid-life crisis and the beginning years of his parents’ marriage, about which he and his sister knew nothing. It is touching and thought-provoking, while challenging both the reader and the main characters to remain true to their faith and the true purpose of their lives. Set in the Deep South, the historical aspects are interesting as well. This is a complex story, but easy enough to follow along without becoming hopelessly lost. Point of view changes from chapter to chapter, but the voice is always clearly established within the first couple lines. Although there were parts I found frustrating and messy, just like real life, this only added to the richness of the story.
Alysia lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and four children. She writes about family life, parenting issues, and other things of interest to her on her blog, Michigal.
Review copy was provided by Betty Summerlin. Compensation was received but in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review.