The Things I Know Best
THE THINGS I KNOW BEST, Lynne Hinton's second book, is a small-town epic. Filled with strange and absorbing characters, Hinton takes us back to the world she created for the best-selling FRIENDSHIP CAKE. However, she has added a dash of the mystical to a trailer park family who has an eye for the future and a hand in all the goings-on in their corner of the 20th century.
"The signs of this future event have been around for a long time...So even though I know it will get her into a mess at the church, maybe even cost her her job, even that image doesn't cause me too much worry." Eighteen-year-old Tessa is dealing with the unusual ability that marks the women of her family: they "know" things, have visions that reveal to them the future. Her mother uses this ability to tell the funeral director when someone is going to pass on --- Mama Bertie has made a good living off that for some time now. Her grandmother has been doing similar things since Tessa can remember. Her twin sister Liddy reads palms and is about to leave town and settle into an adult life in Atlanta. And overseeing all these situations and more (there are many supporting characters who do their share of weird things) is spiritual leader Reverend Renfrew, dragging an Airstream trailer into the park and introducing a whole new way of "knowing." This is a "Southern Gothic" tale with a twist --- combining the sacred and profane together as she does, Hinton conjures up comparisons with other writers such as Kaye Gibbons or Lee Smith.
In some way you can draw a high-handed correlation between this book and Marion Zimmer Bradley's THE MISTS OF AVALON, recently made into a television movie, in which the women of Camelot use their "knowing" to save their kingdom, and a blossoming young love soon reveals all their secrets. I don't know whether Hinton was thinking this way or not, but one thing is for certain: Feminine intuition never goes out of style and it makes for a rollicking good story. THE THINGS I KNOW BEST will surely broaden Hinton's fan base.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on October 1, 2003