3.5 stars. I really liked this book, but I found it much easier to listen to this book than to read it. I grew up in the south, but I still had a hard time with the vernacular as it was written in this book. The 'should/would/could of' ones got me the most, more than 'terreckly' in place of 'directly', 'cain't' in place of 'can't' etc, because I kept thinking it sounds exactly the same if you write 'could've', etc, so why purposefully write it wrong? Listening to it was much less distracting.
I really loved the characters in this story, which is a good thing, because this is such a character driven story that lacking amazing characters, there would be no story to tell. The story is these characters' lives; their faith and their deaths and their scandals and their everyday.
My favorite character was Grandpa Blakeslee. I loved his take on life. I loved his take on faith and loyalty and life in general. He was just such a refreshing character to meet, one who had such a realistic and "homegrown" faith and relationship with his God. I loved his take on faith, that it is not a guarantee or reward, but rather a way of life.
I really liked Will Tweedy as a narrator. I liked that he was young and in the thick of things because he was at that middling age where one is almost adult but still considered a child when it comes to adult issues, so he was privy to a lot of things that he maybe shouldn't have been, but his interpretation of those things was nothing if not interesting. The foreshadowing was a little heavy handed, but it served its purpose, and in a novel as gossipy as this one, it worked pretty well.
I would have liked for a few of the social issues, like prejudice and racial segregation and women's rights to be addressed more fully... all were touched upon, but none really explored at all.
Overall, I really liked the book. I think that Grandpa Blakeslee will stick with me for a while after reading this one. He's just one of those characters that imprint a part of themselves on everyone who meets them.