“Bible”, he said that was all we needed to read. We were not even allowed to read the news, as the only news we needed to know was the good news of the Gospel, and anything else would distract us from it. (L. Smith, 11)
As the story set in motion, we are introduced to the main character, Florida Grace Shepherd making a homecoming to Scrabble Creek. The course of her life appears to be bleak, after the childhood seduction by her half-brother Lamar, her mother’s suicide, two failed marriages and the forsaking of her children. Throughout the novel, we see the effect of several men on Grace’s life, but two have the most impact; firstly, her father and more importantly Jesus Christ.
In the beginning and throughout the book, we see Grace searching for herself and what she truly believes. In a very religious family of die-hard believers, she is not always sure if she believes. “I am and always have been contentious and ornery, full of fear and doubt in a family of believers.” (L. Smith, 3) With so many things going wrong in her life and the struggles and hardships, it was hard for her to believe. Her mindset was to question how someone that was supposed to protect and watch over you could allow so much negative to occur. As a child, Grace’s father, Reverend Virgil Shepherd, moved them around in order to pursue his ministry. It was hard on the whole family, because Reverend Shepherd never knew where they were going or where they would stay when they got there. He always told his family that God would lead them and take them where they needed to go (L. Smith,). Into the stay at Scrabble Creek, we are introduced to Lamar, who turns out to be her half-brother. When he arrives he introduces himself to Grace and her sister, but when Reverend Shepherd returns, they lie to him about Lamar’s true identity. As the story progresses, we begin to see a relationship ensue between Grace and Lamar. We also begin to realize that Lamar has a lot of motives that he has hidden. He ends up stealing the money that Grace’s mother has set aside and runs off. At this point Grace feels even more abandoned and doesn’t know what to do. Her heart is even more broken and she has been betrayed, this fuels her disbelief. For a short while, she would lead a life traveling the South with her father. When they reach Tennessee they would settle in for a while and she would become involved with her first husband Travis Word. A relationship would ensue between Travis and Grace; they would eventually marry and have three children together. Two of which would survive. Their son Travis Jr. would not. The loss of her son would pull her into depression, and would lead to her further disbelief.
Travis made Grace feel safe and allowed her to have something that she had never truly had, or at least she thought that she didn’t have. The thing that she had been searching for, for so long was a family, and this was what Travis provided, he also gave her stability for a while. With him she knew that she would no longer have to move around and she had a home. But as time went on Grace would no longer be happy with Travis. A lot of the reason she wasn’t happy with him anymore…