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Outbound Train, by Renea Winchester

In "Outbound Train", Renea Winchester takes the reader on a journey into a small town, during a simpler time. But don't let that description let you get too complacent: hurtful things happened to innocent people 50 years ago, just as they do today. The wounds went just as deep then as they do now, left the same kind of scars,  required the same kind of care, and carried the same hope of redemption, as similar events in modern life (or in bigger cities).
In other words, "Outbound Train" has a particular setting, but the story is a universal and relatable one.

Winchester's novel begins with a pretty difficult-to-read act of violence, then explores the consequences of that violence in the lives of the victim, Barbara, and her family members. Beyond that fateful night, and the enormous changes that it brought into the life of Barbara, the book describes a certain hopelessness that can set in to residents of the town of Bryson City, North Carolina. Perhaps "hopelessness" isn't the word: but there's a certain dead-end mindset that just about all the characters find themselves resigning themselves to. 

And that's what brings me to my favorite thing about "Outbound Train": both of the negative elements that Barbara finds herself confronted with -- having to deal with the effects of an awful event, and the certainty that she's always going to be stuck here in this town, struggling to make ends meet -- require some level of hope where there doesn't seem to be any. 

During the course of the story, difficult things happen, and those hard things ends up leading to that hope: hope for a resolution, or better yet, a rescue. 

I grew up in a town that, although it was a thousand miles west of Bryson City, had many similarities. I can relate to the sense of resignation that one feels in such a place, so from my perspective, this story rings true. Renea Winchester captured it (that sense of being stuck here) like only someone who has lived there could.

If I were to identify  any complaints about this book, it would be the lack of exploration of the perpetrator of the violence which opens the story. Hopefully the author would consider following the footsteps of Billy Coffey, and write more books about different characters in the same town. I guess time will tell. But for now, this will do just fine.   I recommend "Outbound Train" to anyone who likes a good story about people who overcome. And really, isn't that the description of 
every good story?


I was furnished a copy of "Outbound Train" with an understanding that I would read it and give my honest opinion. My opinion is that you should read it. Click one of the links below to do so:


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