Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae are soul sisters, inseparable during the summers when Bethany and her family stay at their cottage in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley. As they grow up, Bethany realizes that not everything is as perfect as it seems, and every family has dark secrets. As these secrets come to light, Bethany’s world is rocked, and she must decide how to react towards those she loves most.
This was a haunting story that I couldn’t put down. The secrets and events that happen within this family were a rollercoaster that never seemed to stop. From the sad to the horrific, the family seemed to endure so many tragic events.
I thought the true meaning of family was explored as the characters showed themselves to be devoted to each other, even as their world crashed down around them. The family always seemed to rally together and help support each other, even if the actions didn’t always seem to be the right course to take. It’s hard to explain what actions I didn’t agree with without giving the story though.
At times, Bethany seemed very young and innocent for her age, the exact opposite of Reana Mae. I thought this juxaposition was very realistic based on each of their upbringings, and found it to really highlight the difference a child’s environment can have on their development.
As a sidenote, the cover of the book breaks my heart. The little girl looks so sad and innocent, but something about it tells you she knows things she shouldn’t at that age. It really reflects the story well, but it makes me want to tear up everytime I look at it.