The Arms of God

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Overview

Alice is making her daughter dinner when her mother Olivia, who left her at a day care center when she was four, appears at her door. Alice has learned almost nothing about Olivia, when suddenly Olivia dies, leaving Alice to sift through her belongings. As she pieces together her mothers life, Alice learns how a woman can become so desperate that she leaves her childand so courageous that she finds her again.

Not since her bestselling book The...
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The Arms of God: A Novel

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Overview

Alice is making her daughter dinner when her mother Olivia, who left her at a day care center when she was four, appears at her door. Alice has learned almost nothing about Olivia, when suddenly Olivia dies, leaving Alice to sift through her belongings. As she pieces together her mothers life, Alice learns how a woman can become so desperate that she leaves her childand so courageous that she finds her again.

Not since her bestselling book The Friendship Cake has Hinton created characters who are so filled with heartache and fragile hope, that they will become a permanent part of the readers life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An assured if overly emotive storyteller, Hinton (Friendship Cake) spins the tragic tale of Olivia Jacobs, beginning with Olivia's unexplained appearance at the North Carolina home of her grown daughter, Alice, whom she abandoned decades earlier at a day-care center. When elderly Olivia dies just three weeks after suddenly reentering her daughter's life, Alice, raised in a series of foster homes but now the single mother of a 10-year-old daughter, is left to unlock the mystery of her mother's life from a scrapbook of clues. The bulk of the novel chronicles Olivia's Depression-era childhood and adolescence in rural Smoketown, N.C., the uneasy fringe between two enclaves-one black, one white-where racial tension, violence and fear intrude like choke weed. Olivia's marginalized and impoverished white family-including her neglectful single mother, Mattie, and older brother, Roy-is treated kindly by their African-American neighbors. Olivia and Tree, the girl next door, bridge the racial divide with friendship, but violence and misunderstanding shatter their lives. Olivia's story affords Alice a deeper understanding of both her errant mother and herself. Addressing love, faith, friendship and race, Hinton delivers an overwrought but satisfying apologia for Olivia. Agent, Sally McMillan. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mysterious abandonment and reunion frame multi-generational trauma, racial violence and lasting emotional damage. Middle-aged Alice is making strawberry jam when her mother Olivia, who abandoned her at age four, knocks on the front door. From the moment Alice answers with "bloodlike glaze dripping" from her fingers, we know we are in portentous (and occasionally pretentious) southern gothic territory. Best known for the easy charm of her Hope Springs trilogy, here Hinton (The Last Odd Day, 2004, etc.) taps into the darker, if not deeper, vein of her recent work. Olivia dies soon after Alice meets her. Grieving, Alice recalls her awful foster childhood and then the book settles into the story of Olivia's birth and life. Olivia's mother Mattie is a sex-driven, emotionally frigid product of her own father's violence. She arrives in Greensboro, N.C., pregnant, but in deep denial, her five-year-old son Roy tagging along like an afterthought. She settles into a shack on the edge of Smoketown, Greensboro's black ghetto, right next to Ruth, a saintly black woman with her own history of violence. Olivia is born on the heels of the grotesque killing of a young black man and the dramatic ice storm that follows. Ruth's children, Tree, and her dreamy older brother, E. Saul, become Olivia's only real friends. Roy, however, turns mean and violent as he grows into manhood, setting the scene for more horrific violence, events that shatter Olivia and the little love she has known. The denouement, told from Alice's point of view, offers a few shreds of redemption and a sermon-like anecdote justifying the title (Hinton is a pastor). There are some fine characterizations and much drama here, but theauthor's uneven lyricism (she veers into purple prose and cliche) and limited psychological acuity (cycles of abuse figure largely here) doesn't quite rise to the challenge of her material.
From the Publisher
"A memorable story, full of the huge American themes of race, class and sex."

-Washington Post

"Beautifully written and captivating from the very first line, The Arms of God is one of Lynne Hinton's best novels yet."

-Michael Morris, author of Slow Way Home

"Everyone who has read and enjoyed Lynne Hinton's books will love The Arms of God. This lovely book will add to her roster of fans. Moving and touching and everything a good book should be."

-Philip Gulley, author of The Harmony Series

"Lynne Hinton has gifted us with a wondrous novel. Sit at the feet of her characters and learn from them. Love and grief, truth and courage bloom wildly in the garden of their lives. Read this book slowly— like a prayer book."

-Macrina Wiederkehr, author of Gold in Your Memories

"Like a river that whispers, beckons, conjures, and then swallows, The Arms of God seduces us into a spiraling dry ocean of sorrow, reverence, bittersweet remembrance, and unconditional love and shows us the many faces and languages of grace. Lynne Hinton picks up every nuance, color, taste, whisper, and sigh of ache and redemption and serves us a feast of holiness."

-Jaki Shelton Green, author of Singing a Tree into Dance

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312347956
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.66 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne Hinton

LYNNE HINTON is a writer and journalist. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Friendship Cake, Hope Springs and Forever Friends (The Hope Springs Trilogy), among other books, and writes a monthly column for The Charlotte Observer. She lives in New Mexico, where she serves as a pastor.

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Reading Group Guide

Alice is making her daughter dinner when her mother Olivia, who left her at a day care center when she was four, appears at her door. Alice has learned almost nothing about Olivia, when suddenly Olivia dies, leaving Alice to sift through her belongings. As she pieces together her mother's life, Alice learns how a woman can become so desperate that she leaves her child— and so courageous that she finds her again.

Not since her bestselling book The Friendship Cake has Hinton created characters who are so filled with heartache and fragile hope.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2007

    One of the worst books I've ever read

    What a throughly depressing book. I've read her other books and enjoyed them. This book rambles, tries to include too many side lines (all depressing) and you never end up caring about anyone in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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