Something Rising (Light and Swift)
In Something Rising (Light and Swift), Cassie Claiborne grows up in a small town in Indiana. Her father, a local legend at the pool table, has left and married another woman, but Cassie waits for him. Her mother, having left New Orleans to follow this man, stands at the kitchen window waiting for nothing. Her sister, very sickly, reads and thinks and worries. Her grandfather lives in a trailer out back and tries to keep them all sane. Before her father left, Cassie had followed him to Uncle Bud’s, the local pool hall, and Uncle Bud had taught her to shoot pool. She took to it, got very good, and at eighteen, played against her father, and won from him his prized cue. She becomes the best pool player in the county, and earns a living between her winnings and odd jobs she does around the area.
The novel takes Cassie through several different ages, at each one digging deeply into the episodes that shape her. Her friends each have big dreams and a sense that they will never fulfill them. She is unfailingly patient with her mother and sister, she takes care of them, and she seems to put her own life on hold.
The narrative is deceptively comfortable, allowing the reader to move along easily with the story, and then author Haven Kimmel puts on the squeeze, wringing out the emotional insides of a character, exposing the pain, laying bare the vulnerability that each of them feels. They all feel a conflict between their own dreams and the despair and numbness that surrounds them, and throughout, the weather and the landscape of Indiana, in all its flatness, is reflected and sometimes blamed.
When her grandfather and mother have finally passed on, Cassie goes to New Orleans to find the past that her mother always grieved. And there, she finds a redemption that is quite surprising, but absolutely earned. Kimmel has set up her story so skillfully and completely that the payoff gives hope, promise, and complete satisfaction.