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She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb

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When one ponders about the 21st century the thoughts of divorce, adultery, and children being born with no family, no hope, no love are common thoughts that one doesn’t think twice about. It is sad to think that love has drifted from a reachable reality to a myth in people’s eyes. As love fades in our minds and vanishes in our hearts there is still a sliver of hope, some love that remains alive. Sharyn McCrumb’s novel, She Walks These Hills, insights others on the reality of love and instills hope in place of doubt by implying that love still exists, but not necessarily as a fairytale.

When it comes to the most heartbreaking story that shows the real meaning of true love there’s no one that demonstrates it better then Harm Sorely and Rita Petland. When Rita first caught wind of Harm’s escape she displayed no signs of any remaining love for Harm since the news did not phase her. Her love for Harm becomes evident when she goes to the place that they shared which contained memories of the two of them. One can sense these feelings are emerging when Charlotte says, “We drove all the way out to the back of beyond-some holler where she used to live when I was a kid-and I thought she‘d be terrified when we got there. I mean, I thought we were looking for clues as to his whereabouts. You know who I mean…uh…my natural father” (McCrumb 215). Obviously Rita has lingering affection towards Harm because one would not take such actions if feelings were not still very much alive. Soon after their little adventure Rita goes missing in search of her long lost love, that after all these years she could not seem to forget. Harm expresses that his feelings for her haven’t changed either, because when he finds out his love has been killed he finds no reason to live either and takes his own life. Their love is by far the strongest example in McCrumb’s work, even if it means breaking hearts one would never want to.

It is often said that ‘love is blind and irrational,’ the truth behind this can be seen in the actions of Euell Petland. One can see his feelings are genuine when Harm Sorely first escapes, because he demonstrates his concern for Rita and Charlotte, by worrying about their safety. When he discovers Rita still loves Harm and that she goes in search for him, he cannot take the pain the reality brings. His heart was breaking so much that he thought irrationally and acted on impulse rather than logic. So his love couldn’t be with anyone else he kills her in cold blood.

Another saying is ‘anything worthwhile is never easy,’ this could describe the love felt between Martha Ayers and Joe LeDonne. Joe and Martha’s relationship is unique and sometimes confusing. As the novel unfolded one could see that their relationship was far from easy. McCrumb says of Martha, “She never gave up on LeDonne” (51). LeDonne doesn’t do everything he can to make it work, but everyone seems to know how he feels. For example, when Spencer says to Martha, “’Well I just wondered how LeDonne would feel about it.’ the sheriff reddened. ‘I mean, he might worry’” (88). He would not worry about LeDonne’s feelings unless he could see how deeply and truly LeDonne cared for Martha. When LeDonne hadn’t seen Martha his love was evident once more, “‘I haven’t seen her.’ Spencer noticed his uneasiness” (333). LeDonne and Martha’s love for one another and their relationship continues to flourish throughout the novel captivating the reader’s interest on every page.

The deepest, unbreakable love that exists is the love between mother and daughter, or in this case Sabrina Harkryder and her baby, Dustin. When she first threatened to hurt her baby, she didn’t follow through with it, because in her heart she really didn’t want to. Knowing this Martha is able to talk her down by saying, “Cutting that baby won’t add much at all to his pain, Sabrina. But it will break your heart” (120). This shows how one could see the love that she radiated toward her son. When she killed her baby you could still see her love through her irrational thinking when McCrumb describes her by saying, “Her voice rose in anger, or perhaps grief at her loss” (355). Her reasoning behind it was that she believed it was best for the infant to live no longer. Although the outcome was tragic, you could still see the dim light of her love.

Through the experiences of Rita and Harm one sees just how powerful love is. With the description of Euell’s actions, which were controlled by love, one can see the love and heartbreak, which is also manifested in Sabrina’s situation. Martha and LeDonne demonstrate just how tough true love is, yet they don’t give up on this envied journey. Sharyn McCrumb makes love come alive again and brings the world something to strive for, something that was once lost and forgotten in the hearts of many. She Walks These Hills grasps every soul in it‘s intense plot, pulling their heart strings to bring love alive once more in the readers’ hearts.



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