Disclaimer: Very Mary is a 30-year old English teacher at a small community college in rural Ohio. Her choice of reading material may or may not be shared and/or endorsed by other 30-year olds, English teachers, community colleges, and/or rural Ohioans. The views expressed within this post are strictly those of Very Mary.
Very Mary is pretty picky when it comes to books, and (aside from her love affair with every single moment of the Young Adult Twilight series) Very Mary prefers fictional books that seem realistic, that tell really in-depth stories about very well-developed characters, and that don't always have happy endings. Having met these criteria, Robert Morgan's Gap Creek falls into Very Mary's "would recommend to friends" category.
However, Very Mary must be honest. This book will not appeal to the masses, but if you have ever been poor, if you are from Appalachia, or if you have lost a child (or by a twist of fate, all three), you should certainly prepare yourself with a box of tissues close at hand. Very Mary's people (for non-hill folk, "people" means "family") are both poor and Appalachian, and she has lost a child, so this book resonated deep within her. If you happen to be comfortably middle-class, urban, or without children, you may enjoy it, but Very Mary is not sure that the resonance will be as loud.
Brief synopsis: A poor mountain girl marries her "dream" man after a month of courtship. They move from their home in North Carolina to Gap Creek, South Carolina where their daily struggles to simply maintain existence are raw, realistic, and deeply moving. Does their love conquer the hardships? That is this couple's struggle, and sympathetic readers may "see" themselves in the character of Julie, the protagonist.