All the Living (2009) by C.E. Morgan was released in March and should be at EVPL this month. I enjoyed Morgan's novel, though not as much as some the book critics seem to have. I found the writing difficult at first because there are no quotation markings when the characters are speaking, sometimes making it hard to readily discern thoughts from conversation. That coupled with the southern mountain way of talking and spelling made for a difficult read until I was used to it.
In 1984 Kentucky, Orren's family is killed in an auto accident. Orren suddenly inherits the hardscrabble family farm near a small town in the mountains. His girlfriend Aloma, a gifted pianist, moves with him from a sheltered life at a state funded school for orphans where she has lived and now works. They are dirt poor and struggling. Orren thinks he has to do everything himself - more from proving something to himself than anything else, though Morgan really does not convey that need well. As he struggles to work the farm he grows more and more distant with Aloma. Aloma takes a job playing piano at a local church so she can use the piano, she has a deepening relationship with the preacher.
Morgan's characterization of Aloma is good and it is her story. The character of Orren and his motivation could have been better. The character of Bell, the preacher could have been much better. He should have been much stronger - more fire and brimstone. There are no other characters. It is a three person play in which Aloma is the only common factor - though Bell and Orren know each other they only come together once briefly in the book.