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  • Writer's pictureClay Anderson

Review of The World Made Straight by Ron Rash

The World Made Straight by Ron Rash is an evocative, beautifully written novel that transports readers to the heart of Appalachia, offering a deeply empathetic portrayal of its people and their complex history.

Rash's storytelling prowess shines throughout the book, masterfully weaving a narrative that transcends time and place. His characters are as real and multi-dimensional as the mountains and valleys of their surroundings, with their hopes, fears, and struggles deeply intertwined with the land they inhabit.

Our protagonist, Travis Shelton, a seventeen-year-old high school dropout, is a character that readers will find instantly relatable. His journey of self-discovery, spurred by the discovery of a marijuana plot and a run-in with its dangerous owner, is compelling and full of unexpected turns. Rash's nuanced portrayal of Travis's struggle to escape the cycle of violence and poverty that has ensnared his family for generations is deeply moving.

Complementing Travis's story is Leonard Shuler, a former schoolteacher with a tragic past. Leonard becomes a mentor to Travis, and their relationship forms the emotional core of the novel. The interactions between these two characters, fraught with tension and tenderness, are some of the most powerful moments in the book.

One of the most striking aspects of The World Made Straight is Rash's exploration of the region's history, particularly the Civil War's impact on the local community. Through the character of Leonard, Rash brings this history to life, revealing the deep-seated tensions and conflicts that still resonate in the present day. This historical context adds a richness and depth to the narrative that sets this novel apart.

Rash's prose is lyrical and potent, painting vivid pictures of the Appalachian landscape with its beauty and brutality. His descriptions are so detailed and evocative that the reader can almost smell the mountain air and feel the chill of the river.

The World Made Straight is a powerful exploration of the past's influence on the present, a tale of redemption and resilience set against the backdrop of a harsh yet beautiful landscape. It's a testament to Rash's skill as a writer that he can weave such an engrossing, emotionally resonant story from the raw materials of rural life and historical conflict.

Whether you're a fan of literary fiction, historical fiction, or just a lover of well-crafted stories, The World Made Straight by Ron Rash is a book you won't want to miss. It’s a mesmerizing journey that will leave you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of a region often misunderstood.

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