Earl, Honey

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
354 Pages
Reviewed on 07/22/2022
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Author Biography

D.S. Getson was born in North Carolina and grew up hearing snippets of Earl’s story whispered at family gatherings. Online research and interviews with relatives fleshed out the details of an extraordinary tragedy which the author then fictionalized “in between the lines.” A graduate of Duke and Southern Methodist Universities, the author resides in Texas.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

When asked his name, the frightened young boy who has just shot his mama replies: “Earl, honey.” The officer sniggers, except the response isn’t funny. Nor is Earl being sassy. He is simply slow after being brain-damaged by his abusive father years before. It’s episodes like this that will have readers coming to love the young protagonist of Earl, Honey by D.S. Getson. Based on information in Getson’s family history, the author has penned an unforgettable historical novel that I found impossible to put down. Getson is an author who does more than create an engaging plot: her characters are so realistic that readers feel every emotion, especially Earl’s. He’s a lonely, often confused, and scared child, eager to learn and please his elders, and devoted to his younger sister, Lucy. His bond with Lucy and his desire to be with her when life separates them drive the plot.

Equally impressive about D.S. Getson’s writing are her settings and dialogue: both are in keeping with country farm folk and the gentry of the 1920s. No anachronisms here! Likewise, Getson perfectly captures the attitudes of the various classes of society, and many of those, while realistic, are heartbreaking. But there’s one other thing that Getson does that is rare: Earl’s story, and who he becomes is a sustained metaphor. Getson prefaces each of the three sections of Earl, Honey with a description of 3 plants and how they grow to maturity: chickweed, sourwood, and American holly. Those processes parallel Earl’s development, making this novel a stunning coming-of-age story. In this respect, Getson’s Earl, Honey is a classic that deserves your attention. It would make a wonderful movie too. This is brilliant writing and highly recommended reading.

Alma Boucher

Earl, Honey by D.S. Getson is a touching story about a family that suffers terribly under an abusive father. Earl was a young boy when his father hit him on the head and he was never the same after this. He would tell people his brain feels thick. He was slow to understand certain words and concepts but was otherwise independent. When it comes out that the father impregnated his daughter, he was sent to prison for fifteen years. Life was now safer for the mother, Lucy, and Earl. The other children had already left home as soon as they could. After a tragic accident, their lives changed forever and Lucy and Earl ended up in different homes. Earl ended up with a kind and good-hearted person who was willing to take him in and give him a chance in life.

Earl, Honey by D.S. Getson is very disturbing and emotional. The story is easy to read, and I was intrigued from the first page. The events flowed naturally into each other and it is a page-turner. The characters were excellently developed and superbly handled. My favorite character is Earl; he is very strong from the beginning until the last page. Despite his mental disability, he wants to protect his mother and sister Lucy. D.S. Getson handled and described sensitive topics with tact. I had compassion for every member of the family. I wish their life story could have gone differently. True events were used as a framework and Getson used her writing skills to color the rest. The story is well-written, and I loved the ending - it is wonderful.

K.C. Finn

Earl, Honey is a work of fiction in the historical and interpersonal drama subgenres. It is best suited to the mature reading audience owing to non-graphic references to sexual themes, abuse, and incest, and was penned by D. S. Getson. In this tale of family drama that spirals out of control under the fist of a ruthless patriarch, we follow Earl Hahn, who is marked out as “slow” from the day his abusive father hits him with a wooden plank. As his father’s crimes continue, the family suffers a dangerous domino effect, and all the while we watch Earl try to overcome it and find his true place in the world.

Earl’s story is a real heart-wrencher for readers who are prepared to look at the very worst that humanity can do to one another, and the hope and strength that we hold in our hearts to try to survive it. The American South of the 1920s is brought to life vividly by D. S. Getson, and the harsh realities of this rough way of life certainly complement the raw emotional content of the novel well. I also really enjoyed the craftsmanship put into the dialogue, which characterizes the period and location beautifully but is also unique to each family member. This highlights Earl’s difficulties, but also his perseverance and spirit. Earl, Honey is an exceedingly well-penned work of family drama with a painfully realistic core, and I would highly recommend it to fans of gritty historical Southern drama.