April 12, 2016

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

*Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an advanced copy of 
this book for review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

I find really good books the hardest to review. Bad books, on the other hand, are easy to pick apart and to point out their faults. I always struggle to find the right words to describe my thoughts on a really good read. I forgot this one fact when I agreed to partake in the Blog Tour for Kathleen Grissom's newest book, Glory Over Everything, a follow-up story to her last best-seller, The Kitchen House. Not that I thought I wasn't going to like the book, quite the opposite, but as I write this post, I am reminded of how hard I find it to do a great book justice with my words.

Glory Over Everything, a fantastic historical-fiction novel for adults.

Anyway, if you are a regular reader around these parts, you probably recall my undying praise for the Grissom's first book, The Kitchen House. I didn't review the book on here, but I've talked about it in a few different posts, as well as on Instagram and Goodreads. When I caught wind of Glory Over Everything coming out, I knew it was time to finally read The Kitchen House (it had been calling to me ever since it was released, but those pesky TBR piles, you know?). Glory Over Everything, while deemed a standalone novel, is the continuation of a secondary character's story from The Kitchen House, so although one could read Glory Over Everything on it's own, I highly recommend you read them in order as it will only further add to your reading experience.

Glory Over Everything picks up several years after The Kitchen House ends, and tells the story of what became of Jamie Pyke, the son of the master of Tall Oaks and a black slave, after he flees the plantation. Jamie, born of a fair complexion, was raised by his white grandmother and brought up to believe that black people are evil and the race is to be hated. When he learns of his true lineage, it is a truth that he will struggle with for the rest of his life.

The book starts out slowly, giving much back history into the earlier years of Jamie's life once he fled the plantation, and how he came to be James Burton, a successful silversmith and the adoptive son of the Burton's. Living as a white man, James is forever worried that his secret identity will be found out. When Henry, the man who initially helped James find a life in Philadelphia, asks him to employ his young son, Pan, as a servant, James obliges. James and Pan form a bond over time, and when Pan is kidnapped and sold into slavery, James, indebted to Henry, promises him that he will travel back to the South to find and bring home, the young boy.

James, who has never stopped struggling with his past, must face his fears and risk revealing his true identity in efforts to save Pan. It is on this journey that all of his strength, resolve, bravery and true-being will be tested. How far will James go to save Pan? When he meets another slave, Sukey, a girl James remembers from his early years at Tall Oaks, will he try and save her too? The world of slavery and the Underground Railroad is a dangerous and ruthless place. You can't trust anyone, yet your survival lies in the hands of complete strangers.

Needless to say, I was hooked from the beginning. Grissom writes in such a way that you are immediately pulled into the story and transported to the year 1830. I took a liking to Jamie right away, and while at first I missed the characters from The Kitchen House, I quickly became invested in the new characters in this book. Pan - the innocent, cheerful young boy who is sure to win your heart over from the get-go; Robert - Jamie's most loyal and trustworthy Butler; Sukey - lovers of The Kitchen House will remember her as Miss Lavinia's beloved servant - is now a slave, helping other slaves escape via the Underground Railroad; Adelaide - the spunky, and daring young woman determined to help Jamie in his journey; and of course, Mr and Mrs Burton, the lovely couple who first saw promise and hope in young Jamie when he most needed it. There are other wonderful, yet smaller characters whom we meet along the way, as well as some horrid ones, and Grissom weaves a story that you won't soon forget.

I can't imagine reading this book and not finding yourself invested in the story and eager to get to the last page. The fear and tension in this book is palpable at times, and many chapters will have you on the edge of your seat. Glory Over Everything isn't as graphic as The Kitchen House, but it doesn't sugar-coat the brutality or despicable truths that were abundant during the slave trade era. In some ways, I felt the ending wrapped up a little too neatly, but it in no way took away from the overall experience of reading this book. Of course, I was left with wanting more, and I hope Ms Grissom isn't done with this story yet. I highly recommend this book if you are a lover of historical-fiction, but if you aren't that well-versed in the genre, then both of these books are a great place to start.

Have you read The Kitchen House?

Are you a fan of historical-fiction? Favourite book of this genre?

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