Virginia Kate Carey has come home to West Virginia to release her mother’s ashes to the wind, but the feral Katie Ivene will not be laid to rest so gently. Powerful as a hurricane roaring through the lives of her husband and three children, Katie Ivene left an alcoholic trail of emotional devastation in her path, because when she loved, she loved magnificently, and when she hated, she hated fiercely. Virginia Kate’s only hope to bury her mother and her memories is to set free the words that will tell their story, and she does so with aplomb.
In the beginning of Tender Graces, her voice has all the breathless energy and adoration of a five-year-old for her mother. Yet as Virginia Kate writes of her life and the lives of her two brothers, her tone matures and though Tender Graces grows darker, Virginia Kate’s hope and humor shines through their storms with depth and insight far beyond her years.
This is not your usual saccharine coming of age novel. North Carolina author Kathryn Magendie tells Virginia Kate’s tale with passion, poetry, and an honesty that will feel brutal at times, but nowhere does she manipulate the reader with cheap literary tricks. She exhibits her greatest skill when she chronicles the children’s gradual emotional growth and with Virginia Kate’s subtly changing narrative. Poignant and funny, Tender Graces renders an accurate telling of being a child in an alcoholic home without being preachy or overwrought.
Bravo to Magendie and her debut novel! I hope we will be seeing more of her work in the future.