Heart-Side Up by Barbara Dimmick

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Days pass. She grows accustomed to how the saw bursts into life. She makes it roar, quiets it, by adjustments of choke and throttle. In time, she pulls the start cord with a little flourish. Like a boy in a fairy tale with an enchanted sword, she lops off deadfall with mere touches of the blade's rotating teeth, branches the size of her thumb, her wrist, her upper arm. She finds herself ankle-deep, shin-deep, knee-deep in what she has cut, discovers that a forest takes up a whole lot more room when you cut it into pieces and pile it on the ground.

Zoe is attacked in the classroom by a bright-eyed boy who gives no warning. The searing scars from the strokes of the knife are a constant reminder that she is not safe, ever. Clutching her bottle of anti-anxiety pills, she goes to the mountains of Vermont to find Dayton, the man she lost to God years before.

Dayton is living in a controversial monastery, so isolated and extreme that the Catholic Church does not acknowledge it. Impulsively, Zoe buys a half-finished house with no running water, no heat. The only town for miles is Shroveton, whose inhabitants are immediately suspicious of Zoe's arrival and place bets as to whether or not she will last the winter. But it is here, through the back-breaking labor of felling trees, fetching water, and keeping warm-- with the help of a dog named Gus-- that Zoe is able to be near Dayton, but at a safe distance.

Strange signs of resentment and anger, however, creep into her new life. Someone leaves a gutted doe on her property, hacks off her dog's tail, and haunts her dreams. Ultimately, Zoe is forced to confront her deepest fears: bodily danger and the truth about Dayton.

In Heart-Side Up, Barbara Dimmick delves into the darkness of fear, love, and trust, and shows that prayer can be the rhythm of hard work and salvation, simply the process of surviving.
 

About Barbara Dimmick

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Barbara Dimmick is the author of the novel, In the Presence of Horses. At various times a horse trainer, homesteader, and college professor, she now lives and writes in northern New England.
 
Published May 1, 2002 by Graywolf Press. 328 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Attacked in her Rhode Island classroom by a knife-wielding student, Zoe Muir finds her psychological wounds are harder to heal than the cuts on her body.

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