Cheri Reviews Finding the Grain by Wynn Malone


A month or so ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she had read Finding the Grain and that she was surprised by how much she liked it. She recommended I give it a shot the next time I was looking for something good to read. Now, this friend and I don’t always agree on what constitutes a good book so I didn’t rush out and buy it.

A few weeks ago, completely out of the blue, I got an email from the publisher with a copy of Finding the Grain attached for possible review. Usually when I get emails from authors or publishers, I send a message with the blurb for the book out to the C-Spot Reviews crew and forward the book to the first person to express interest. I didn’t do that with this one. I wasn’t ready to read it but I wanted to hold it for myself. I very rarely do that. I’m super busy so I’d rather give the team a chance if they’ve got the time and desire.

As it happens, I spent the past week or so moving from the beginning of one book to the next, just looking for something to grab my attention. Once I got to Wynn Malone’s book, I stayed right where I was. Before I go any further in sharing my thoughts, here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

Kentucky was only ever going to be a summer job. Come fall, Blue Riley would be back in North Carolina, in college. But one job led to another, one town led to another, and one woman led to another. Now, after twenty years Blue faces the hardest question of all—is it time to go home?

The story kicks off with Blue, Augusta Blue Riley, talking with her Aunt Julie about college. Blue has just lost her parents in a tornado and she and her aunt don’t see eye to eye on the direction Blue should take. They come to an agreement and with the beginning of the next chapter, we’re off on the adventure that will take us to a middle-aged Blue.

Yeah, I’m not actually going to give you much more than that. While this is a romance novel, it is really so much more than that. It’s not just the tale of Blue finding and losing the love of her life, it’s the story of Blue finding and losing herself. The author takes us along as Blue moves from place to place, job to job, and woman to woman and I was happy to have traveled those miles and years with her.

I found myself drawn into this book almost immediately. Not just with the well-developed protagonist but some of the secondary characters, as well. I felt like Blue was a friend of mine – a maddening friend who made some stupid choices but who I still wanted to care about and I hoped to see her succeed in finding herself. I don’t want to dissuade you from reading the book because of Blue’s bad decision making abilities. Those choices felt genuine and not just plot devices to move us from one place to another.

I think that my being born just a few years after Blue helped me to truly understand some of the obstacles she, and the love of her life Grace, had to deal with. I hope that readers in their 20s and 30s are able to get a glimpse into what being a lesbian in the 80s and 90s was like. It was very different from how it is now.

One of the things that stood out to me the most about Wynn Malone’s book was her writing style and her voice. I loved her descriptions – particularly of nature. I felt as though I was hiking in the mountains or fishing right alongside the characters. Ms. Malone’s voice alone would be enough to get me to read her next book, the fact that the story and characters kept me engaged to the point that I had to fight with myself to put the book down well after my bedtime last night is a bonus.

Was the book perfect? No. There were several errors that the editing team should have caught, extra words in sentences that weren’t removed, mostly. It was enough to pull me out of the story more than a few times. But as far as the story, itself, is concerned, I really enjoyed it. Very much. If you’re looking for a well written book that takes you on a character’s personal journey and not just a quick, girl gets girl, girl loses girl, girl gets girl and lives happily ever after book, I’d highly recommend this one.

You can download a sample or purchase Finding the Grain by clicking here.