Souls Raised from the Dead: A Novel
Scribner Paperback Fiction
, 1994 - Fiction
- 339 pages
At the center of this wonderfully moving novel is a Southern family in crisis - and at the center of the family are a loving father and his daughter, Mary Grace. Mary Grace Thompson is about to turn thirteen, horse-crazy, doted upon by two sets of feuding grandparents - the respectable Thompsons and the trashy Broomes. She lives with her divorced father, Frank, a North Carolina state trooper. It's three years since her mother ran away with the county tax collector - and she hasn't come back, even for a visit. Frank dates, but the center of his universe is his daughter. On the verge of puberty, Mary is just beginning to try her wings - wangling her way into riding lessons, pushing her father toward the beautiful riding instructor, dreaming of boys. She's precariously aware that if she wants she can join the crowd whose grades and looks will take them someplace. Every day on the job, Frank brings calm to other people's catastrophes - from an overturned poultry truck spewing panicked chickens over the highway to fatal accidents. Suddenly, the catastrophe that he feels has been circling his own world since his wife took off comes home to stay. Suddenly, Mary Grace is diagnosed with an incurable disease. Armed with courage, humor, and a shaky faith in God, Frank, the family, and their friends face this most devastating of events - the slow death of a beloved child. The vivid and various responses - of Mary Grace herself, of her wisecracking granddad, of her no-account mother, of her adoring father, as well as his two girlfriends and his fellow state troopers - are told with an immediacy that floods this novel with a rush of life. With profound feeling, with a humor both delicate and robust,Doris Betts gives us a family richly varied and real. Souls Raised from the Dead is her finest novel yet.