I’m a fan of Christina Carson; perhaps that’s the reason I’ve read all her books, featured her on Author Wednesday several times (06/05/2013, 03/05/2014, 05/14/2014), and reviewed her previous two books, Dying to Know and Suffer the Little Children. Today I’m excited to give a review of her latest work, which is the first book in her Accidents of Birth Trilogy. Where It Began begins where all good stories begin—of course, at the beginning.
My first comment may sound as if it’s a criticism, but it’s not. It’s probably the best thing someone could say to me about one of my books. Where It Began ended far too soon for me. I was just settling down on the front porch with a cup of coffee so I could rock away as Imogene drank her tea and told her stories. But before I could take the first sip, Imogene was saying good-bye and telling me to wait for the next book in the trilogy.
Imogene Ware, a woman of substance in spirit, tells the story of the family where she works, and so Ms. Carson writes the narrative in the dialect of the African American south in the 1960s. This takes some adjustment, but once Imogene became my best friend, I found myself thinking in the same dialect. It takes a talented author to pull off dialect, but Ms. Carson is a master.
However, it is the powerful messages Imogene imparts to the reader that most resonated with me. Her faith and spirit are powerful, yet she attributes all that she is to her own mother. No matter its source, this spirit saves the lives of more than one person in Where It Began. I’m sure that will continue in the rest of the trilogy. [Note to Christina Carson: If you are reading this review, please go back to your computer and continue writing the rest of the books in this series.]
Ms. Carson’s description of the Deep South creates a vivid portrait where the reader is captivated through all the senses. In this scene, she’s describing the hotness of August with imaginative imagery: “You smell it by what burning up around you. You taste it as dry dust gritting up on you teeth. You see it, its light so blinding white you think you in the presence of an angel. An you feel it, scorching all it touch.”
As the metaphors seeped through my skin, the philosophy of life filtered through the pages of this book for me to savor in the late hours as I waited for sleep to come. Imogene’s mama told her, “My work is to love the world.” Simple, yet powerful language Imogene pulled out to assuage her aching body and heart during the worst of times working for folks with despicable ways for loving children hurt in the wake of those ways.
This book filled me with hope and with a reminder to approach life with love in my heart, which will lead me to the proper places for healing the hurts and hatreds of the world. Ms. Carson uses Imogene’s character to show us that it’s one thing to talk about loving and doing the right thing, but that the true integrity of a person shines through when we live the talk of love. Some folks are harder to love, and there are times where it’s easier to feel bitterness in our hearts, but in the end, we all make the choice on how we live our lives, and whether or not we allow ourselves to be enslaved by the chains we’ve created.
If you’re looking for a good story with a moral heart, you’ll enjoy this read. As the story envelops you in its warm embrace, the subtle lessons will climb up into your lap as you sip your coffee or tea. You won’t even mind the scorching heat of a Mississippi summer.
Disclosure: I was given an Advanced Review Copy of Where It Began in exchange for an honest review.