A book review
Of all the things I would do with my blog if I were a faithful blogger, this is one of the most fun. I love writing and sharing about I'm reading. I've been planning for several weeks to write this one...better late than never?
The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole by Stephenie Doyon is one of those books that serendipity dropped into my lap. I never heard of it; I never read a review about it; I never went looking for it. It just came to me, by way of a back-street thrift store in Krakow. Some of these shops get their merchandise from Great Britian, so there are occasionally a few English-language books and movies in their inventory. Their regular customers have little interest in these things, so they sell them for extremely low prices, about 50 cents or a dollar. Since the average English-language title available new here costs a minimum of $10, and usually more, I never skip the opportunity to look for something that I might like to read. Most of what is available is junk I wouldn't even pay 50 cents to read, but sometimes, I find something better, and that is how The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole crossed my path.
Cedar Hole is the quintessential back-water town, filled with small-minded people. There are no real opportunities, nothing to be proud of, nothing to do, and at the same time, no one seems to muster enough ambition to leave. This book is the story of two boys who grow to manhood in Cedar Hole. One of them has vision and purpose, but no desire to leave. His focus is on improving Cedar Hole, beginning with himself. The second boy has the desire to leave, but lacks the impetus to do it, and ends up staying put and living the kind of life that most folks in Cedar Hole live. Which of them is the greatest man in Cedar Hole?
The story is complex, with a cast of characters that bring Cedar Hole to life. Every-day temptations, family dynamics, tragedy, comedy--this book feels very much like real life. In the end, the greatest man in Cedar Hole chooses honesty, family, and integrity over wealth and the chance to move away. I was so impressed with this story, and its modest, simple "hero" who simply lived and worked and was there for the people who needed him.