Book Review: Ghosts of Ide County By Kurt Schauppner
Book Review By Delphine Lucas
After struggling through the first hundred pages of this nearly four- hundred page book, truth be told, I almost gave up. I then told myself, a local author wrote this and I want to give it more of a chance.
I’m glad I did. It was worth it.
At the beginning of the story, the reader is introduced to the community of Clemons, California. It seems like a town in the mid-west, not a real happening place, and the people were not interesting or engaging to me for the first hundred pages.
Yet this book sneaks up on you. Suddenly you realize that these are people like ourselves, the kind of people who love their children so much, it’s painful. While children need love like this in order to thrive, it is irrelevant to their self-absorbed worlds. It’s all too familiar.
The story spans three generations of Clemons’ families in a place where if anything exists, it’s stability. Entertainment in Clemons consists of an occasional auction, ecumenical church celebration, or involvement in other peoples’ business.
Things finally begin moving along when the townspeople decide to raise money to help Mrs. Madison who is having a difficult pregnancy. They have fallen in love with baby Knoll even be- fore he is born.
One of the things this story does is examine the collective consciousness of the people in this particular place, how they come together to pray for, help, and love one another when the need arises.
It is also the story of how things can go terribly wrong, particularly when a persuasive group of people in the town tell the story to the next generation of children of what happened the day their beloved Knoll vanished without a trace.
The consciousness of the locals changes in light of, or should it be said, in the darkness of their ignorance. Knoll’s older brother, an autistic boy who doesn’t speak, and a homeless man who lives in the park are accused of murdering the boy. The accusations have tragic consequences into the third generation. The town changes from a caring supportive group of people to a town without pity, very much like the lyrics of the Gene Pitney song from the 60’s.
Once, you get into this book, there’s no putting it down. Schauppner is a gifted writer. His writing style is unique and delightfully nuanced, and his humor is dry and witty, which makes for enjoyable reading. The description of the ecumenical gathering of the town’s churches was hilarious. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.
The book needs some editing and proof-reading. It would be good to have a faster pace at the beginning. With some changes, this book will be great.