From the very first pages of Miller’s Valley, I knew it would be the kind of story that would wrap itself around me and give me a hug. A story about the life of a town, a valley, and a way of life, it would also be all about the moments in life that are memorable. Those that stand out, from the ordinary to the astounding ones.
Our first person narrator, Mary Margaret Miller (Mimi) is an endearing character who is smart, insightful, and shows us why we should connect with her and her family. And her town. Her parents are definitely flawed, Bud and Miriam Miller, but I really enjoyed how they tried their best to hold onto what they loved. Even the somewhat arrogant and stuffy oldest brother, Ed, who left the valley as soon as he could, and the playful, charming, and troubled younger brother Tommy, whose troubles were almost too much for them to handle. Then there is Aunt Ruth, their mother’s sister, who lives in the back house on the property. A woman who refuses to leave the house, who won’t even go outside to save someone’s life. What led her to this state of mind? What secrets is she keeping?
Mimi’s friends were not really very loyal, in my opinion, and I especially thought her best friend LaRhonda was someone she should discard at the earliest possible moment. Judgmental, narcissistic, and spoiled, she could never be supportive. But then there was Donald, who spent most of his young adulthood away from Miller’s Valley, only to be drawn back to it and the connections formed in childhood. He was a true friend.
Why is the government so invested in closing down the town? What actions were taken early on by officials that would almost surely make that inevitable? How does one family and a few townspeople fight against the destruction of everything they loved? Why will some of them finally give in?
Aside from the “big picture” view of things, I could not help but savor Mimi’s voice as she shared what she loved and dreamed about. Emotionally, her story resonated with me, as I grew up in a rural environment; the era of the 70s reminded me of the tacky interiors, but also of some of the favorite books shared by Mimi in this story, like The Group. In adulthood, I lived in a community with an overflowing dam looming over us. Therefore, the evacuations and the losses to those in this community felt like very real moments, ones that I cared about, just as I loved this story and its characters. 5 stars.
***I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.