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Outbound Train by Renea Winchester

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This debut novel has been much anticipated by many fans of Renea Winchester as an author of prose books. It only takes a quick look at her titles to appreciate her unpretentious, but oh-so-clever, way with words that express the complexity and ambiguity of our lives - for example, Farming, Friends & Fried Bologna Sandwiches or Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half Truths from Appalachia. Her novel's title, Outbound Train, expresses the tension between loving a place and wanting to leave it. Set in 1976 with flashbacks to sixteen years earlier when Barbara Parker's daughter, Carole Anne, was born, the chapters alternate between Barbara and Carole Anne. The theme of staying or leaving takes on layers of meaning as three generations of women living together in a trailer wrestle with it. Set in Bryson City, North Carolina, where the author grew up, this novel illuminates the life and challenges of a woman working at the "blue Jean plant" in a strikingly authentic  way. I read Renea Winchester for the story and come away with a deeper understanding of the human condition. "I fell in love with the smart, strong, funny characters in this community of make-do women, and I predict you will, too." - Pamela Duncan. "Filled with unusual insight and authentic detail, this beautifully written story examines the resilience, quirks, secrets, daily hardships, and deep personal courage of three Appalachian women.  . . .Outbound Train is a novel I will remember for a long, long time." - Amy Hill Hearth. "With pitch perfect dialogue and believable characters, Winchester has crafted a story that will make readers stand up and cheer." - Michael Morris. 

Birmingham, Alabama: Firefly Southern Fiction/ LPC Books/Iron Stream Media, 2020. 247 pages with Book Club Questions. Trade paperback, $14.99.