Ivorie Walker lives alone in the quaint little town of Morgan Hill, Tennessee, an independent young woman in her 30s struggling hard with the death of her mother. The year is 1950, and she’s the lone successor to the family’s modest estate, including the spritely family dog “Sally,” a few kind milking cows, a barn, and a large three-bedroom house. Ivorie has been getting decent offers for her land but cannot bear to give it up. Tending to her vegetable garden and visiting friendly neighbors eats up a little time, but she is truly sad to the bone and has spent far too many days reliving the past.
"...Donna VanLiere does a spectacular job of creating a captivating challenge for her readers. THE GOOD DREAM is realistic, touching, intense, gripping and tranquil --- a novel that everyone who enjoys good fiction should love."
Ivorie does stand firm on the belief that she can manage as a single woman. But she also realizes she has never seriously considered dating before. She is beginning to wonder if she indeed might be happier if she gave up her long boycott of men, and has been seeing a certain rugged farmer in a new light, a widower named George Coley. Somehow George has instantly grown in stature and wicked, hot-blooded charms, and clearly the feeling seems to be mutual as George desires nothing more than to get better acquainted --- fast.
Rather formally, George asks to “call on” Ivorie and shows up every few days, arriving with bushel upon bushel of blueberries. Ivorie responds with jar after jar of jam and blueberry dessert, and their first dates and conversations seem beyond awkward, but they do quickly move past that and seem to fit like a glove. The romance skirts those agonizing first conversations toward a pleasant current of blissful passion and good, easy company. They are definitely inseparable and have fiery heat. The question is: Is it love or lust? Before she knows it, Ivorie is considering all the benefits of married life --- physical and emotional --- when, lo and behold, she discovers that her vegetable garden is being pillaged and tomato vines snapped by a strange creature.
The burglary of her mother’s vegetable garden claims much of Ivorie’s attentions once she discovers the identity of the beast. At first she thinks that Sally Dog is the one to blame, but repeated crushings of her tender vegetables and plants lead to metal traps being laid, without result, and Ivorie spreading the news around town of the vicious marauder. In turn, she hears of a local legend of a “jumabu,” something the children say is nothing more than a made-up creature. But Ivorie does find her own “jumabu,” a sweet, dirty, mute, seemingly disturbed child (a boy of only six or seven) who answers none of her questions, seems ravenously hungry, visits often to eat and watch, and arrives so skittish, smelly and uneasy --- and so thickly covered in dirt --- that he barely looks human. Of course, she wonders to whom he belongs.
Ivorie is consumed with, and haunted by, the boy’s repeated visits and begins to investigate the reason for his sorry condition. The identity and location of his parents, home and private life is a disturbing mystery. She can see clearly only that he descends from “The Hills” and is always alone. This is the place where the destitute, desperate or dangerous retreat, toward shacks that lie far away from “civilized folk,” and she finds herself looking “right into the pit of hell.” But the mystery of this strange boy becomes the answer to her prayers and dreams.
THE GOOD DREAM is written from various perspectives: that of Ivorie, “The Boy,” and Ivorie’s older brother. It is a spectacular, heartbreaking, dramatic, pure love story about family and the sweetest love between a parent and child. It also makes an excellent mystery and is very cleverly told, concerning the identity of the boy’s birth parents and nature of his presence in Morgan Hill. Naturally, much doubt is cast on many possible culprits, and Donna VanLiere does a spectacular job of creating a captivating challenge for her readers. THE GOOD DREAM is realistic, touching, intense, gripping and tranquil --- a novel that everyone who enjoys good fiction should love.
Reviewed by Melanie Smith on July 13, 2012
The Good Dream