The Line That Held Us has been described as an "Appalachian noir." Set in a rural American mountain community, the book's main characters and their stories are intricately tied to the land they live on. Raised in a relatively poor area and on a hard landscape, they are salt-of-the-earth people who know how to take matters into their own hands.
The novel revolves around Darl Moody, who sets off into the forest to illegally hunt at the beginning of the novel. Instead of shooting a buck he's seen numerous times over the past few years, Moody accidentally shoots another man - the brother of a frightening man named Dwayne Brewer. Moody enlists his best friend, Calvin Hooper, to help him cover up the accident, unknowingly entangling him in a dangerous, horrifying web of revenge.
I heard about The Line That Held Us through the "bookstagram" community on Instagram. For those who don't know, it's the label given to book bloggers and book lovers on the photo-posting app. Several people I follow had posted about this book, so I decided to give it a try.
I have nothing but admiration for Joy's writing abilities. His chapters are elegant, relatively short, and easy to follow. He doesn't waste time on over-describing, and the story moves at a blistering pace. While I enjoyed Joy's writing and ability to get straight to the point, I did find this book quite dark. "Olivia," I can hear people saying, "don't you love things that are dark?" The answer is yes, I normally do. But I like my darkness broken up by a little bit of light every once in a while, and this book was pure darkness.
It's not an inherently bad thing. I think this book is cinematic and atmospheric and in strange way quite beautiful. Joy’s writing is impeccable. He perfectly describes the hard lives his characters live and has a knack for explaining their motives and habits.
But for me, The Line That Held Us was just too upsetting. If you enjoy movies by Quentin Tarantino or the award-winning film No Country For Old Men, you’re definitely going to want to give this book a try. It’s quite a quick, easy read because the chapters are so fast-paced and to the point, so if you’ve got a long car-ride or a weekend with no plans coming up, The Line That Held Us is a great book to read in one or two sittings.