THE PARAGRAPH RANCH
by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon
Published in 2014 by Booktrope.
Reviewed by K.L. Romo.
While reading The Paragraph Ranch, I almost felt transported to my grandmother’s house in the middle of cotton farmland in South Texas. Depictions of rural Texas are faithful to Texas farm life, from the descriptions of the town and the farmhouse with no air conditioning or Wi-Fi, to the strong Texas dialect engrained in its characters.
Dee Anna Bennett-Kaufmann is a misplaced Texan living in North Carolina. She’d escaped farm life and Texas as soon as she was old enough to move away, and never looked back. Dee has always put her career and her writing before everything else, including her family. Although she has a doctorate in Creative Writing and is an assistant professor at a renowned college, she must now finish the book she’s writing to secure her position at the college.
At the worst possible time, Dee’s cantankerous elderly mother Alice breaks both wrists in a car accident, and Dee reluctantly agrees to stay with her for a few weeks of rehab. But the weeks turn into the entire summer. What both Dee and her mother learn during this tenuous time together surprises them both.
Dee also agrees to facilitate a local writers’ group. She slowly realizes that its members and the narratives they create have strengthened her bond to her home town and the family she left behind.
I found the writing in this novel to be very well done, and the characterizations to be very compelling. The depiction of Texas and its citizens was right on point. Even the prejudicial comments made by Alice accurately portray the old-time attitudes of Texas past, even though far from flattering to those from that era.
The Paragraph Ranch is a novel about family, obligation, and the ties that bind the two together. But even more than that, it’s about what a person might discover about themselves and their loved ones if they slow down the pace; if they take the time to understand what makes each of us who we are, and to learn what strengthens the bonds between members of a family.
The Paragraph Ranch was a very enjoyable book to read, and I highly recommend it.
K.L. Romo is a writer who lives with her family in Duncanville, Texas. She is currently querying agents to represent her newly-completed novel – FROM GRACE I FALL – about an empty-nester who’s suddenly transported back to 1907 Dallas, seeing the world through the eyes of a reformed prostitute. You can visit her at www.klromo.com