The Grave Tender is a haunting and beautifully woven southern gothic about a broken family and the love that binds them together. The story starts slow as the story introduces Hadley, her friends, family, and their small town which on the surface seems idyllic. It’s the sort of town where everyone knows each other over generations, but the smiling town hides many secrets.
What I loved most about this book was how it dealt with matters of appearance. It’s easy to point fingers and blame those that look the most guilty, who are the most eccentric. It’s the folly of letting appearances dictate our perception of the people around us. Evil is committed every day by seemingly normal people, and true monsters masquerade under the guise of banality.
The book deals with some of the most horrible situations a person can go through with extreme delicacy. Not everyone has a happy ending, sometimes there are crimes that go unpunished, sometimes victims never receive justice, some wounds heal but many more never do. I cried so much while reading this book because of how close to home it hit for me, I was honestly touched.
I can’t say much more about the book because it’s really the sort of story that needs to be experienced without spoilers. I will however note that the content in this book is difficult to stomach. For a survivor of abuse, it can be either cathartic or utterly horrifying, which is why I’ve added a trigger warning in the list of warnings below. I cautiously recommend this book for those ready for a poignant and unflinchingly honest exploration of domestic abuse.
“I believe that life is full of tragedy. Some lives more than others. But I also believe that comfort can be found with the people that love you . . . if you’re willing to let them give it.”