Skip to main content

Critical Praise

"In a gripping tale of self-exploration and atonement, Kelley's debut skillfully evokes the unpredictability of life in 1918 through mesmerizing descriptions and fully realized characters. Joshua Hunter volunteers to fight in the Great War to escape his rural Virginia home, becoming a respected sniper in wartime France. Unfettered from his close-knit Appalachian community's expectations, he develops a growing quietness and strength despite the ugliness of war. Returning home a crippled war hero, Joshua feels the old familiar expectations becoming more onerous. And even an engagement and job offer cannot erase the past, the echoes of war, and a well-guarded secret. Kelley's novel is emotionally complex and brimming with grit. Told in a plainspoken manner through parallel story lines—the present in Appalachia and the past in France—this story will appeal to readers of coming-of-age stories with a historical bent."

Publishers Weekly (starred)


"Kelley’s characters are believable … human … introspective, and when they speak it is from the heart, honestly and without frills."

Clarion Reviews (5-stars)



 ~ A ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book-of-the-Year Award Winner ~


"A universal story that delivers its message that love can never take root inside the head, but in the heart."

— Jill Wisoff, Unabridged


"Neither a war novel nor a coming-of-age novel nor a romance novel - it is simply a novel worth reading."

— Lisa Jones, 300 Word Book Reviews