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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.