In one of my workshops at Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference we had a discussion about the difference between literary fiction and genre or popular fiction. I’ll admit I’ve never truly understood the difference, but after reading This is Where it Ends, by Cindy K. Sproles, I feel I have a better understanding. Popular (or genre) fiction follows a predictable pattern. You know in a romance they’re going to meet and fall in love. In a mystery, the protagonist will figure out who committed the crime. In a thriller, the good guys will win over the bad guys. Genre fiction is generally plot driven. Literary, however is more character driven. It’s introspective and contemplates the human condition. Thus is the case with this book.
This is Where it Ends is the story of 94-year-old Minerva Jenkins. When she was a 14-year-old bride, her husband moved her from Lexington to the top of a mountain. He brought with him a secret box he said held gold. For fifty years the two of them lived together on that mountain, scraping together a decent life but one devoid of much love on his part. When he died, she continued to live on the mountain alone, but now that she’s nearing the end of her days, she worries about dying alone and no one even knowing it. Fortunately, word gets out about hidden gold, and Minerva finds herself suddenly the center of much attention.
Though there are elements of mystery, suspense, and even danger, the essence of this story is Minerva coming to terms with her life. She’s a feisty woman full of wisdom and opinions of how things should be done. But once Del Rankins enters her life, she finds herself questioning her marriage and life choices, most importantly, her promise to protect her husband’s secret.
I’ll admit, this book took me awhile to truly appreciate. I got frustrated with Minerva asking the same questions over and over. I wanted more action. and kept waiting for something more to happen. At times, I wanted to set it down and quit reading, but I persevered, and I’m glad I did. In the end, I fell in love with Minerva and understood why the story went so slowly.
Author Cindy K. Sproles is a master of dialogue and description. She paints a very real picture of a woman who’s lived her entire adult life in the Appalachian mountains. She captures the rugged life, the isolation, the resilience of survival, and the community that comes together in time of need. This is Where it Ends is a historical novel taking place in the late 1800’s, but the feelings and fears Minerva deals with are timeless.
If you’re wanting a quick and predictable read, this is not the book for you. But if you’re looking for a thought-provoking story of an independent mountain woman whose greatest need is to feel loved, then check out This is Where it Ends. It will give you a better appreciation of your own life.
Though there are elements of mystery, suspense, and even danger, the essence of this story is Minerva coming to terms with her life.Sharon Wilharm
I was excited to receive a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.