Book Review: ‘Road Out Of Winter’ Is A Powerful And Compelling Read

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented extreme winter.

Alison Stine has written an extraordinary story in ‘Road Out of Winter.’ The further I got into the tale, the more engrossed I became. It may be a strange thing to say about a writer but after reading countless books by men and women over the years, there is a distinct difference the way a story is presented. I could not believe a woman had put on paper the extremes that happen when civilizations begin to fall down and the world falls into anarchy.

Our heroine, Wylodine, is a woman with a very special talent; she can grow plants. You might wonder why that is so special until you move into the world she occupies. Winter came on year and never left. One year was bad enough, especially when you live in Appalachian Ohio. Wylodine is around nineteen or twenty years old and has been deserted by her mother and her mother’s lover, they went to California to start anew and left her behind. The basement of her house is where they grew marijuana, which kept them alive, and with her special gift, it is the best marijuana around.

Conditions continue to get worse and she decides to move to California to locate her mother. Along the way, she picks up two young men and a 15-year-old mom. It seems that all the cards are stacked against them but no matter what happens, they manage to survive. The mountain men they encounter on their travels are terrifying and the way civilian laws continue to break down, keep you praying that can escape. Author Alison Stine has the gift of great descriptive words, she takes you into the bitter cold of the forests and shows you, with eloquent vernacular, how winter has failed the animals, causing them to gradually disappear and die and you know that the humans are not far behind.

In an almost casual way, she describes, in chilling detail, the death of the world around her, and no matter what they go through, she constantly collects seeds, anywhere, and everywhere she can. She knows her gift of growing will be the saving of herself and her companions. I cannot adequately find the words to describe the marvelous story she has told. The mountain men, so quickly reverted to savagery, the church groups who only want you if you can be saved, already doomed to the icy fire of eternal winter. The stories and events are told skillfully and with a power that is casually brilliant.

You know as you near the end, that Wylodine will survive because you won’t let it end any other way. The power of the vision is incredible and you know as you move forward, she will be a survivor, a grower of plants when no one else can. The overall picture Stine paints of the good, the bad, and the ugly, is without comparison in any book I have ever read. Very highly recommended.

Available in bookstores September 1st

Ann McDonald

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