This book is exquisite, like a great oil painting, full of rich, layered detail. Payne has a true gift for the lilt & structure of regional language, Southern dialect in particular; the voices of these characters are one of the many things that make this book more "cinematic," for lack of a better word. I was immersed and had to take this book with me wherever I went. I hated for it to end, and had to go off all books for a few days, so the power of it could sink in. I'd already read Gravesend Light, in which the young narrator from Ruin Creek, Joey, has grown up and returned to the outer banks. For me, Payne's greatest work is Early from the Dance; it is more focused, centered on a shorter period of time, one summer - a young love triangle... and there's an echo of Dangerous Liaisons, a darker force controlling their relationships. But Ruin Creek is something to be savored, the warmth of this book, especially, in the loving relationship with young Joey and his Grandpa.
Payne here introduces us to characters we care about: Jimmy, the star high school athlete who dreams about becoming a writer; May, the lovely young daughter of a prosperous family whose mother keeps telling her to "remember who you are"; and Joey, now 12, their unplanned son, conceived in the passion of teenage love. With honesty and compassion, these three narrate from their own perspectives the story of a failing marriage. May's parents are supportive; Jimmy's father kind but bowed by his jealous, sharp-tongued shrike of a wife. Payne ( Early from the Dance , LJ 9/1/89) beautifully portrays the 1950s beaches of North Carolina, and his description of this family, so full of love with all their faults, makes the reader ache for them. Highly recommended.
LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
Advanced reader copy. Great story. Set in the South (Carolina\'s).