Honestly, the beginning of this novel was torturous to read. I almost put it down. What a tough subject matter. My Goodreads synopsis.
Brilliant writing. Deep and soulful. Very tough subject matter. Nocher has nailed it! The wonderful/awful family named Jules brings everything to the table. How would you handle having twins and one is disabled? And you have a house filled with children and another one on the way? Just the thought is humbling and sad. A tragic family drama filled with seemingly very real people.
The opening chapter gives you a good idea what it was like for the mother and the siblings to live in a tortured world where little Ella existed. Like I said above, it was really hard to read. Then, the second chapter moves decades later to a time where the Beechwood Institute is closing its doors after two hundred years of housing retardants. Ella Jules has lived at Beechwood since she was eight-years-old. She has five siblings she’s not seen in almost forty years. She has been living and thriving with Lynetta who’s been her loving companion and caretaker at the institute all this time. Ella is at the mercy of the state as to where she will live and with whom. Her parents are aging and yet they want to bring her back to the family home where they think they can care for her. But, Lynette has petitioned to keep Ella with her as she is the only person who truly knows Ella and understands her. So there is that. However, the siblings still remember the horror of living with Ella and they are against this reunion. So much so that they have planned a reunion at the family home so they can keep this move at bay.
Told in exquisite prose, great empathy, deep emotion, and what appears to be an abundance of research, THE PRECIOUS JULES tells a story that riveted me to the page. Kept drawing me back in. Each character is important. Each has his or her own memory of Ella. Not a story to be taken lightly, this heart-wrenching tale has plenty of twists and turns, many secrets, and a solid ending.
Anytime I hear about a place like this Beechwood Institute for retardants I am just madder than a hornet. For people to have been so treated over the years is shameful. Not much good ever came from places like this and this is no different. What went on in the halls and rooms within this dastardly place? I shudder at the thought.
So, there you have it dear readers. Do you dare dive into THE PRECIOUS JULES? I dare you. It’s an important read.
My review copy came from Blackstone Publishing in exchange for an honest review. It’s brilliant and harrowing. It could win awards in literary fiction. It was an outstanding read!