Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meg Moseley's "Gone South"

Gone South    -     By: Meg Moseley
In her novel Gone South, Meg Moseley explores what happens when a Northern girl moves into the old ancestral home in the Deep South.  Letitia McComb has been fascinated by her family history, and when she discovers an opportunity to buy the house in which her ancestors lived during the aftermath of the Civil War, she gives in to the impulse to uproot her Michigan life and make the purchase.  However, years of bitterness over wrongs by her ancestors both legitimate and perceived lead to a frosty welcome.  With no job or connections in Alabama, all Tish has to lean on are a troubled youth to whom she offers shelter, a handsome antiques dealer with a depressed dog that thinks it lives at Tish's house, and God. 

I have somewhat mixed feelings over Mel (Tish's alleged thief of a houseguest).  I do believe that people are way too hard on her and that she is not as bad as everyone assumes; being neglected and put down all the time could bring out the worst in anybody.  However, I'm still not sure that she is truly repentant or can discern between what is right and wrong.  While she is seeking God, I do not think she quite gets it, since she treats Him more as a genie that grants wishes.  I would have liked to see a little more change or closure on her spiritual life, even if it was only one sentence to indicate that she had fully handed her life over to God.

While a good portion of the plot deals with the grudges and myths left over from the War Between States, I appreciate that Moseley doesn't let Tish's desire to clear her family's name overshadow what is really important - the here and now; living a Godly life and ministering to the neglected and unloved local girl staying in her spare bedroom.  Eventually people will see that Tish is not her namesake; the love and mercy she showers on Mel is proof of her heart and ought to dispel the old prejudices, for truly, "mercy triumphs over judgement" (James 2:13b).  There is a lot of judgement going on in that town, but mercy will overcome. 

It was a pleasant book, with some good lessons to ponder.  Tish is an excellent main character; she is likeable but not perfect - occasionally she can be just as quick to judge as everyone else, but she at least works on it.  I am glad for the gradual change in George and Cal as the girls prove their prejudices are unfounded, and I especially like that George takes a leap of faith with Mel, giving her a chance to prove herself rather than waiting for her to prove herself and then giving her a chance.  4 out of 5 stars

For another novel on a similar vein, I would also recommend Kathryn Cushman's Chasing Hope, in which another young woman sticks her neck out to help a troubled youth. 

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