Poorly Written,

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Stones in the Road
by E.B. Moore

Published: 2015-10-06
Paperback : 384 pages
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A young Amish boy ventures from Pennsylvania to California in this richly imagined historical novel from the author of An Unseemly Wife.

1867. Growing up among the Pennsylvania Amish, eleven-year-old Joshua knows that his father is a respected church deacon who has the ear of God. But ...
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A young Amish boy ventures from Pennsylvania to California in this richly imagined historical novel from the author of An Unseemly Wife.

1867. Growing up among the Pennsylvania Amish, eleven-year-old Joshua knows that his father is a respected church deacon who has the ear of God. But he’s also seen his father’s weakness for drink, and borne the brunt of his violent rages. In the aftermath of a disastrous fire, Joshua fears his father’s reprimand enough to run away from home. Having never experienced the ways of the English, Joshua now embarks on a decade-long journey to California, where he’s heard it’s always summer.

His mother, Miriam, is forced to take on the unusual role of head of the family when her husband is unable to recover physically, emotionally, or spiritually from the fire. As mother and son each find themselves in uncharted territory, they must draw on strength and forgiveness from within. Urged by everyone to accept her son’s death, Miriam never gives up hope of seeing Joshua again. But even as her prayers are answered so many years later, Joshua’s reunion will require him to face his father once again…


Editorial Review

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Chapter 1
The Graveyard
Joshua urges his horse through the iron gate. Hoping to find his father’s headstone, he dismounts at one slab not yet covered with lichen and reads the name. It’s not Father’s. He reads it again. Hand to his beard, he compresses his lips. The name is his own. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Did you think of Miriam as naïve when it comes to Abraham?
2. After the fire and Joshua’s disappearance, Miriam takes many steps
outside her normal boundaries. Which one did you find most significant?
3. How would you say Joshua’s faith evolves over the course of the
4. After he leaves home, Joshua encounters various mother and father
figures in the book. Who do you think has the most impact on him,
whether positive or negative?
5. Several times, Abraham’s helplessness is compared to that of a
child. In what ways is this apt or not?
6. Is there a “villain” in the book? If so, who is it?
7. Why do you think Abraham resists the idea that Joshua has
8. Could you find sympathy for Abraham by the end of the novel?
9. What are the “stones” in Joshua or Miriam’s road?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub




Q. Your previous book was based on an experience of your grandmother. Is Stones in the Road also based on a family story?

A. Yes, the story is loosely based on my grandfather’s early life when he ran away from home at age eleven, after being repeatedly beaten. He made it across the country on his own and, after ten years, returned with a notch in one ear from a stray bullet.

His story came to me through my mother, who, as a child, sat on his knee, soaking up the little he was willing to share. Unfortunately, he died long before I was born, giving me no chance to get more than the bones of what happened. I did learn enough about running away to think it a poor choice, yet I gave it a try the summer I turned five. Sure to wear boots, with a sweater around the waist of my jeans, I tied necessities in a red bandanna—my arrowhead collection and three wedges of pecan pie. Halfway down the lane, pie innards dripped through the cloth, and my mother distracted me with the promise of fresh peach ice cream.

Q. What kind of research did you have to do?

A. My research began when I traveled the route of the Overland Trail west from Nebraska. I couldn’t believe how impossible the terrain must have been for a covered wagon, and how startling to see the Devil’s Tower and the Badlands. Imagining this through the eyes of a young runaway led me to start the book. After that, I read histories of towns along the trail as well as journals of men who made the trek.

Q. Unlike your first book, this one has both a male and a female point of view. Were there any special difficulties in writing from a male point of view?

A. As a kid I was a tomboy growing up on a farm like Joshua’s, so I felt comfortable fitting into his skin, except for the sex part. For that, I had to ask a lot of questions, and believe me, there aren’t many men who are willing to have their boyhood bodies researched.

Q. Did you find writing your second novel easier than writing the first?

A. “Easy” isn’t a word I would use when it comes to writing. For me it’s a compulsion I can’t and don’t want to resist. I get snarky if I’m away from it for any length of time. But these two books did help each other, since I’d written half of Stones in the Road before I wrote An Unseemly Wife. Both were started in poetry form and then morphed into prose. I loved the writing process, attempting to become each character and letting them lead me to unexpected reactions.

Q. You’re a professional sculptor. Does that skill play any part in your writing?

A. The process is remarkably similar. In sculpture you have to look from every angle to be sure the piece works as a whole. In writing, if you don’t do the same, you end up with flat characters or a disjointed plot. Also, my love of tools made its way into many chapters. These implements now hang unused on beams in my loft, so writing them into stories gives me a chance to relive my other life.

Q. Do you need peace and quiet to write? What would be a typical writing day for you?

A. I live alone, so most of the time, my working hours remain quiet. But not on vacation. Noise made me cut those weeks short, but deprivation set in, and I learned to work in the midst of a crowded living room, participating in passing conversations or ducking Ping-Pong balls during exuberant tournaments.

On these weeks, my days start between four and five a.m. (not by design). I eat lunch while everyone else has breakfast, then welcome a second lunch at noon. Napping is a necessity, followed by edits and a much-needed walk. By late afternoon I don’t trust anything I write, so a martini and cooking with friends round out the evening. Staying awake till ten proves a challenge.

At home, interruptions demand greater attention: the call of laundry, organizing maintenance of the converted factory where I’m a trustee, culling my freezer for lost chocolates. The ubiquitous Facebook.

Q. What are you working on now?

A. I’m working on a novel set in the current day, about an elderly woman on the lam in the Boston Garden. Slipping from reality, she escapes her children’s loving clutches, running away from the hospital dressed in a johnny, a mink coat tied with a telephone cord, and a pair of goggley-eyed slippers given by her youngest grandchild.

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Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Stones in the Road"by Marty K. (see profile) 11/19/15

I found this book to be boring, unrealistic and poorly written. Without giving away the bad ending, there is no way you can convince me that a mother who has pined for her child more than ten years would... (read more)

  "Stones In The Road"by Elizabeth P. (see profile) 09/22/15

Joshua's mother, Miriam, was forced into taking over decision making for the family after her husband, Abraham, was hurt in an accident?. This was totally out of character for a woman who w... (read more)

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