Everyone Dies- Bootlegger’s Edition

Hang the Moon

By Jeannette Walls

Sally Kincaid made sure the family business kept on running no matter what. To celebrate this novel’s Prohibition theme, we’re introducing our first drink. The Ward 8 not only sounds as political as the Kincaid Family’s life in Claiborne County, but it will make good use out of the Duke’s whiskey. Click here to get the recipe from Drinking Hobby.

**Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the chance to review this book.**

Do you get easily attached to fictional characters? If the answer is “yes,” this might not be the book for you. “Everyone dies” is a BIT of an exaggeration, but not by much.

Best known for her autobiography, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls is back with this historical fiction set in Claiborne County, Virginia during the Prohibition Era. Sally Kincaid is the daughter of Hank Kincaid, known simply as “The Duke.” The Duke is the owner behind the most powerful business in the area, The Emporium. The Emporium not only sells goods to everyone in the area, but it is also the center of the county’s bootlegging operations, much to Sally’s chagrin when she finds out. The Duke has his hand in almost everyone’s life. He may sell you goods at his store. He may employ you and pay you with store credit. He may act as your landlord. He may let you pay rent with moonshine, which he then goes on to sell to other people. Either way, there is no doubt who holds the power in Claiborne County. The Duke rules both the financial and political operations of the local area.

The Duke has a rather colorful marriage history, especially for the era in which he lived. His first wife, Belle, was beloved by the town. She gave him a daughter, Mary. However, he soon fell in love with Ann Powell, Sally’s mother, and divorced Belle in order to be with her. Belle and Mary were sent packing, nursing a well-deserved grudge against the Duke. When Sally was three years old, Ann was killed by the Duke during a violent confrontation. He was never arrested. You would think Sally would hate him, but you would be wrong. She worshipped the ground he walked on.

After the Duke killed Ann, he married Jane, an uptight, proper woman who did not like Sally. She gave birth to Sally’s younger brother, Eddie. Eddie was brilliantly smart, but not daring. He was also the heir to the Kincaid fortune as the first-born male of the family. One day, Sally takes Eddie on a ride on her defiance coaster and crashes it, severely injuring him. Jane in her fury insists that Sally go live with her Aunt Faye. The Duke promises that it will only be for a few months, but months turn into years. Finally, when Sally is a teenager, Jane dies from influenza. The Duke permits her to return to her childhood home, The Big House.

Sally had a hard life with Aunt Faye, and she learned what it was like to never have enough money. She also learned how to work hard and never take what you have for granted. I can’t get too far into the storyline because even discussing the other characters gives a hint as to who the “everyone” in “everyone dies” is going to be. However, this is a story about coming to terms with the idealized versions of our parents that we sometimes create as kids. It also highlights Sally’s grit and compassion for other people in stark contrast to those around her who operate based on business principles alone. Finally, Hang the Moon reminds us that desperation can lead to some pretty poor choices, but there is more to a person than the compilation of their mistakes.

While I liked the messages that evolved from this book, I couldn’t get over the multitude of unlikeable characters and constant death. The instability of the story line was jarring at times– you thought the plot was heading down a certain path only for it to suddenly veer in a different direction. After the second or third time that happened, I grew tired of the changes. However, I loved Sally as a character, so she erased many of the grumbles I had. Overall, I would recommend this book to many of my historical fiction-loving friends and encourage them to look up the story of Willie Carter Sharpe, the “Queen of the Roanoke Rumrunners” from which Sally’s character is based.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

My Rating System Explained

5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:  This was an amazing book, and I can't stop thinking about it.   It impacted me emotionally or changed my perspective.  My thoughts keep flickering back to it at random times throughout the day.  I will absolutely recommend it to my friends or to one of my book clubs.

4 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:  This was a really good book.  Parts of it stuck with me, and I might mention it in a conversation.  There is a high likelihood that I will recommend it to my friends or to one of my book clubs.

3 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️:  I liked this book.  It allowed me to escape from reality for a while.  While I might tell somebody about it if I think it will interest them, I will probably not suggest it to one of my book clubs.

2 Stars ⭐️⭐️:  There's something about this book that I didn't like.  I wasn't willing to go all the way down to a one-star rating, but I'm definitely not digging it.  I may recognize that this book is not for me, but it might be for other people.  I will not recommend it to my friends or one of my book clubs.

1 Star ⭐️:  My rarest rating.  I really didn't like this book.  Something in the story line upset me, and I probably "hate-read" the majority of the book.  Not only will I not recommend it, but I will actively tell people that I did not like it.

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