Christy Huddleston, a nineteen-year-old living in Asheville, Tennessee, decides to leave the comfort of her home to become a teacher in rural Cutter Gap, Tennessee. The book follows Christy as she teaches, grows in her faith, wonders what to do with the moonshiners in the Cove (Cutter Gap), and faces decisions about love, faith, and forgiveness.
Very good — wrong and right are clearly defined and when they're not, they're discussed. There are feuds, pranks, and grudges, all of which are shown as wrong. Someone is murdered and his killer is proud of what he has done.
Most of the people of in the Cove are Christians, although some only in name. The highlanders are superstitious and have distorted views of faith; they also tell stories about ghosts. Miss Alice is a Quaker. David, a pastor, is confused about his faith, which shows when others ask him challenging spiritual questions. When a friend dies, Christy begins to doubt God’s existence but in the end grows closer to Him. Dr. MacNeill says that he had "taken science as his god."
Someone is shot in the back, but it’s not descriptive. Christy muses to herself that the highlanders’ courts end "all too often in...a body swinging from a limb of the nearest maple or oak." Bird’s-Eye shoots a deer and busts one of its legs. Christy is told about ravens that would eat "the eyes of live baby animals."
Drug and Alcohol Content
There are moonshiners in the cove and people get drunk and smoke tobacco. Ether is used.
A character is described to have an "ample bosom." It is mentioned that someone has "slut’s wool" in their house, although this seems to simply mean dust. An elderly lady says in her younger days she was "always with a baby to [her] breast." There are many kisses. Someone is raped and it is slightly graphic. A girl refers to herself as an "accident conceived in a man’s lust." During a church service when babies start crying their mothers begin to nurse them in public. After a marriage ceremony (which includes "putting the bride to bed") there’s a short discussion about the mountain people’s view of sex.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
The words/phrases damified, d**nation, holy thunder, lordamercy, oh lordy, for God’s sake, b**tard, and a** are used. In one of the highlanders’ superstitious stories people are forced to kiss the devil’s bottom.
It was really neat to watch Christy in her spiritual walk with Miss Alice (but ultimately, God) guiding her. This rich, thought provoking book includes a tablespoon of romance, which completes the recipe for a great story. It definitely has mature content, but if readers are able to handle that, it does not detract from the story's value. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read.