“This is Where it Ends” by Cindy K. Sproles        

Fulfilling a promise not to tell anyone about the secret that her husband, Stately, entrusts to her, Minerva Jane Jenkins buries a mysterious box upon his death. When reporter Del Rankin shows up on her property and presses to know the story behind the reputed stolen gold, Minerva holds onto her secret, albeit with a conflicted heart once she and Del develop a significant bond. Enter then Colton Morris, a trusted co-worker of Del’s “at the paper,” who emerges as the villain, and demonstrates his interest in securing the box of rumored gold for himself by whatever violent means necessary. Also enter a memory, Melba, the woman from the past that Minerva catches kissing Stately in the distance. Could the box hold something other than treasure?

Minerva’s saga is alluring, filled with mystery and suspense, with more than an occasional twist and turn. The story is set in Appalachia, but there is much that is universal. Betrayal by a man she loves. Life as an elder passing time in solitude while facing the fact that she isn’t going to live forever. Emerging relationships with significant bonds.

Cindy K. Sproles paints the setting of a world she knows, complete with trailing kudzu, and a powerful pen that perhaps comes from exposure to skillful oral storytellers in the region where she grew up. Sproles takes her character sometimes to the places where the reader doesn’t want to see them go with vivid inner emotion, adding to the suspense. The use of vernacular language is a challenge for a writer to pull off consistently in a story, but on the whole the writer fleshes out her character, Minerva, exquisitely. The author engages the reader with the main character’s inner voice: “I come off my pillow and wagged my finger at him. I still had the gun in my hand.” Minerva has it all down with wisdom, too:

“There ain’t a soul alive that’s found their happiness in the almighty dollar. Money, gold, possessions—all act like a coiled snake. They build up their fire, strike, and then they’re spent. A body’s happiness, the real prize, is found in the folks they befriend.”

Cindy K. Sproles

This is Where it Ends is truly one of those Appalachian goodbyes, where the kinfolks follow the car down the driveway waving their farewells at the end of the visit. You, the reader, will be grateful for this long and trailing goodbye, because letting go of strong, feisty, and willful Minerva Jane Jenkins will not be easy once you find yourself absorbed in her life. She will remain in your heart long after the story ends and hopefully as the author intends, compassion for the aged will be her lingering message.

Oddly, for this reviewer, reading this book comes just after losing my own elderly mother. There is much to relate in end of life and the people with whom we share stories, and the infinite bonds of love. Certainly, Cindy K. Sproles has shown us the importance of empathy and support for those at this stage and how it is done through both the inner voice of Minerva and the kindnesses of Del Rankin and others in this Kentucky community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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