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The Line That Held Us

By: David Joy
Narrated by: Macleod Andrews
Length: 7 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (152 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he's chased for years, he never expected he'd accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he's killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer: his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world.

The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption, where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

©2018 David Joy (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Unflinching... Joy writes about rough-hewn men and women eking out a living in an economically depressed area, trying to avoid - but often affected by - violence and drugs that permeate the region. Their lives are tied to the land, its history, and their families who established lives there decades ago.” (Associated Press

“A suspenseful page-turner, complete with one of the absolutely killer endings that have become one of Joy’s signatures.” (Los Angeles Times

“Joy has proved adept with southern noir in his first two novels, and he nails it again here, in the actions of characters who act as they must, for the sake of family and friendship, given their nature. This is fiction as beautiful and compelling as it is searing.” (Booklist, starred review)  

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The Blurred Lines that Held Me

It’s been a few days now since I finished listening to David Joy’s The Line That Held Us; and I’m still not sure I can speak to it in a worthy fashion. Mr. Joy’s first two listens were stunning, so this one had an uphill battle, so to speak. And, you know what, that uphill battle was conquered with his amazing talent for ultra dark, vivid and ever-so-flawed characters; his deftly exquisite prose to define and craft them; and the just sheer design of the story itself. The darkest yet, to me anyway, of his books, The Line That Held Us appears to have allowed the continuing depth of Mr. Joy’s talent to filter through and emerge. Dwayne Brewer is a terrifying, brutal, emotionally riveting man who is both the gold standard of rage and love simultaneously. If nothing else, listen to the book to get a glimpse of him. But, his presence does little to distract from the story and the other characters (both primary and secondary), though he does seem to be such a pivotal person. At various points during this book, I began to question Mr. Joy’s mental status UNTIL I realized that I was right there with him, my own viscera on constant alert for the next jolt. Top all this with the superbly brilliant audio presentation by Mr. MacLeod Andrews and you have a substantially challenging book. I did have some reservations regarding the somewhat lengthy ending chapters but I’ll go back and re-listen to make sure I didn’t miss anything in my stunned-into-silence last two chapters. The Line That Held Us offers lines that are drawn and lines that are blurred...and it’s those blurred lines that held me.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Captivating

Extremely well written, the narrator was brilliant. The story line was riveting. I couldn’t stop listening.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 08-21-18

Hillbilly poetry

Eloquent telling of a raw "Winters Bone" style tale set in the Appalachian Mountains. The story soars off of the page with MacLeod Andrew's performance. Listen and then listen again and again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not sure ?

This a brilliantly written story. But the major themes of death, vengeance, and evil are very difficult to handle. I’m just not sure if it is worth it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rick
  • Urcuqui, Ecuador
  • 05-04-19

Destruction and Redemption

There is savagery, violence, vengeance, and just a hint of madness in this taut, compact thriller from David Joy. In the deep woods of North Carolina, a man goes hunting for a trophy buck, and accidentally shoots another man instead. When the victim’s Bible-quoting brother seeks revenge, things get ugly fast, and then weird. Macleod Andrews delivers a profoundly authentic narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Meh

This is a novel trying to do two different things: capture the spirit of Appalachia and tell a ghoulish murder story. I think the book makes a good attempt at the first, especially in the opening scenes, but goes way over the top in the telling of the ghoulish murder story.

Whereas the novel tries to ground itself in the gritty reality of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, complete with a scene in a Walmart where a character wanders around the aisles drinking beer, the plot lacks believability.

I was actually very excited to read this book, but ultimately disappointed in the storytelling. The story really drags in the middle and towards the end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • RCC
  • ACTON MA USA
  • 04-07-19

magnificent right from the start

man you really feel for these people. none more than than the principal bad guy. that was really something. ive just finished and i cant wait to dive into "where all light tends to go." same team: joy writing, macleod narrating. great great great combo. well done! thank you.

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One of the best I have ever read.

What a phenomenal read. I have been living in the prose of this novel for the week and a half since I finished it - and it is a beautiful place to be. David Joy has a gift - a gift of intermixing beauty, reality, and violence. I am a character-driven reader. And, I am most fond of characters who are multi-faceted and real, flaws and all out for the world to see. I am not afraid of the "bad guy." Not afraid of the villain or antagonist. Dewayne Brewer is a great "bad guy." He is nuanced and real. He is the sum of his experiences and new elements that are just uniquely him. I also fell into the character of Calvin Hooper and his growth and change. The story is violent and, at times, graphically violent. The violence is not for the faint of heart, but it is based in reality and place. It fits our time and current world. It is Southern Gothic and has shades of Flannery O'Connor and her misfit. The timeless issues of family bonds, tragedy, vengeance, and redemption are all front and center. And, that ending! None of my friends have read The Line that Held Us yet (what a great title). I NEED someone to talk with about this ending. I have THOUGHTS and need a place to put them and see where they go.

As I often do, I read and listened to this book at the same time. Because of that, I need to take a moment to talk about Macleod Andrews (he has narrated all of Joy's books). He was amazing. His voice and accent are authentic and his ability to nuance the voices is remarkable. Just the slightest of changes signaled to me who was speaking with consistency. He alerted me to the speaker with only the chapter numbers. He has been the perfect narrator for all of Joy's fiction, but, somehow, I found this narration to be even better.

As a local mountain girl and NC native for my whole life, I find David Joy to be a voice that speaks to me with clarity and genuine understanding of the region I live in and love. The Line that Held Us is the best book I have read - maybe ever. The 20-year-and-counting English teacher in me wants to read this work with my AP class - but I do not want to ruin the reading by making it an assignment. So, I will settle for showing it to them and encouraging them to pick it up and read on their own (and always happy to talk about it with them!). I only have one copy - but I will loan it out as much as they want to read it.

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Come on, it's David Joy!

I love David Joy. I LOVE his turn of phrase and the depths of of his characters! This is his third book and I am eagerly awaiting his fourth! I like how his stories take place in the same area and lightly reference each other, so I feel like I'm an insider (think Stephen King and Derry, Maine). I can see every detail of his landscape, from the rust on a can to the feathers on a crow. He will draw you in and leave you wanting more when the ride has ended.
His characters are deep and complex yet beautifully simple and common (take a listen and you'll see what I'm saying). Hard to say who the main characters is but I love and despise Dwayne Brewer. He has a line that is something like - I worry as much about dying as I do about skipping a meal - it killed me. It sums him up perfectly.
If you like a good story, fantastic narrator, excitement, deep characters, terror, hope, thrills, and basically anything that makes a book good, here you go! If you don't...maybe try a self-help.

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Spellbinding!

David Joy is an incredible writer. His characters have depth, his narrative is lyrical, and the story intriguing.

I know that “Southern Noir” is his genre of choice, but it is sometimes SO noir that you want to skip ahead to avoid the gritty parts.

Write more David Joy! Maybe a little more JOYful!