A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
Mercer University Press, 2012 (2012)
Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
ith beautifully poetic language Marly Youmans has written a story both simple and complex. Pip, ten years old, has lost his brother Otto, and until he can reconcile himself to that loss he is unable to find himself. The problem is, Pip is an orphan, completely alone in the world, with an unusual way of apprehending the world around him.
his story follows Pip through the years as he leaves the South to ride the rails in search of something, he knows not what. Along the way he meets people trying to make a living through the Depression, some who are kindly disposed to a strange boy and some who are not. We are always inside Pip's thoughts as he tries to make sense out of the events of his life. Moments of rare beauty as well as those of deep sorrow keep reminding him of his brother and that certain something he is missing.
he author's unusual descriptions provide a rare look at what a sensitive young person who has been traumatized might see and feel. They are opaque and luminous all at the same time, not always easy to follow, but there is no question of their beauty. Marley Youmans' work has received the Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction from the Mercer University Press: '
an exceptional work of fiction that speaks to the human condition in a Southern context.
' Highly recommended.
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