Let Me Die In His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Date: June 2, 2015
Everyone knows that Hollerans don’t go near Baines. That’s a fact. So it’s a foolish and dangerous thing for Annie Holleran to sneak up to the Baines place to look in their well. You see, it’s also a fact that a girl, exactly halfway between her fifteenth and sixteenth birthday, needs to look deep into a well to see the face of the man she’s going to marry. It’s a tradition and it’s one that folks take very seriously. Instead of a big entourage of people to celebrate with her, Annie simply puts up with her sister tagging along. But the discovery she makes opens up far more than a just the question of who she will marry. A dead body near the well brings up old history that’s better left buried.
Switching back and forth between the 30’s and the 50’s, Let Me Die in His Footsteps holds at its center, a crystalizing moment for a small farming community; the last public hanging in America. A mystery that unfolds over multiple generations, little details, clues, and hints are revealed through fascinating narratives encompassing two main voices. Annie Holleran and her mother, Sarah. With vivid exploration of country values interspersed with old wives tales, we learn that Sarah’s sister, Juna, is held up as a local celebrity of sorts. Juna’s involvement in the trial and subsequent hanging of Joseph Carl Baines, is something of legend. It’s believed that she still haunts the region with her ‘knowing’ and ‘evil ways.’
As the story unfolds, we learn more about Juna, Sarah, and how their handling of past events shapes the world that Anne and her sister, Caroline live in now. It’s an incredible walk through history and well worth the time for a good read. It intrigued me that some were comparing Lori Roy to Harper Lee and now I can see how that comparison fits. For those who enjoyed To Kill A Mockingbird, this may well be a good choice. Although I will say that just because the main character in the story is a young adult, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the book is good for all young adults. This is a heavy story with a lot of adult overtones and some pretty deep situations. I’d recommend this one for older teens at the very least.
The twists and turns in this story were unexpected and they ended up turning everything I’d imagined about its direction upside down. The plot went places that surprised me and had me re-reading sections to see if what I’d read was really true. They were unexpected and yet not unbelievable. The mystery in this book is solid and powerful. If you love mysteries, this should be at the top of your summer reading list.
Heart wrenching in places, stunning in others, this fast paced novel will keep your mind engaged long after you’ve put the book down. This is one of those tales that doesn’t end when you close the cover. You’ll find yourself completely immersed in this story as it plays out in front of you with details as rich and vivid as any film.
*Review copy provided by the publisher. Thank you!