In 1920s North Carolina young Rufus leaves his family knowing nobody will miss him. He carries haunting secrets buried deep in his memory. When he falls in with the O’Haras he believes he found a home. He learns to make white lightening and prospers in selling it. Running moonshine leads him to dark places where he encounters rough culprits. A scheme gone wrong lands him in prison where he confronts the demons in his past.
After her mother’s killed in a feud, fifteen year-old Jolene O’Hara must fend for her younger brothers by herself. To survive she delves into the whiskey trade, turning heat up on the feud. From the illegal liquor boom of Prohibition she rakes in a fortune. With her charismatic ways she dares to wear men’s clothes and wield a Smith and Wesson. She attracts admirers, both male and female. The arrival of the Great Depression sends Jolene on a downward spiral. She suffers the loss of her business and people close to her.
Now out of prison Rufus gets what he longed for, he’s the only person Jolene can turn to. The looming feud added to her heavy drinking puts their relationship on a track to disaster.
Plot: The Prohibition era has long been the subject of novels, film, and television. Rather than sticking with tried-and-true depictions of affluent gangsters, Angle takes a more novel approach by focusing on the moonshine brewers in the backwoods.
Prose/Style: Angle’s use of dialect and phonetic spelling can be jarring at first, but the reader soon falls under the spell of the poetic rhythm of Rufus’s narration.
Originality: Angle’s gritty tale pushes the boundaries of what readers may come to expect in the genre. As Rufus and Jolene they a living selling whiskey in the era of Prohibition, they come across a host of unsavory characters, deepening an age-old family feud.
Character Development/Execution: Rufus and Jolene are colorful characters who leap off the page. Evocative descriptions immerse the readers in the gritty underbelly of 1920s and 1930s North Carolina.
Date Submitted: June 02, 2021