“Repressive societies always seemed to understand the danger of “wrong” ideas.”
Twenty-six year old Dana lives in California. The year is 1976. She has recently moved into a new home and is suddenly caught up in a mysterious time portal that transports her to 19th century Maryland. In this alternate time, she saves a boy from drowning. He turns out to be her white, slave-holding ancestor.
The plot has depth to it, exploring the complexities of Dana’s relationship with her white husband and her own feelings about her family history. This is a complicated story, one to read and think about. The writing is so good the story pulls you along, but be warned, parts in the narrative are disturbing. Dana is thrust repeatedly into a world where she is a slave and repeatedly has to save her ancestor, regardless of her feelings.
This novel is incredibly well written, the storytelling superb. The writing feels fresh. I did not realize it was written in the seventies until after I finished the book.
Kindred is a unique book. Even if you never read fantasy or sci-fi, you should get this book. I’m not sure who recommended it but I’m glad they did. Part historical fiction and part sci-fi, this novel written by Octavia E. Butler is one I think everyone should read.
This novel is firmly in my notable books pile. If this had been on my radar when I was homeschooling the kids I would have used it in a unit study for my older students.
This book convinced me it is okay to write prologues! Read it and you will see what I mean.
Bonus Review! I know it’s not Wednesday, but it took me so long to get this up and if you haven’t picked your August selection yet I wanted to let you guys know what I thought about this book.
~The Storyteller’s Secret: A Novel by Sejal Badani~
I chose this as my August Kindle First Read. This wasn’t a book I would have normally selected, but I was glad to have the opportunity to read it. One of the best things about Kindle first reads is that the program reduces my options so I discover new authors I would’ve otherwise passed over.
Jaya is struggling to come to terms with repeated miscarriages and the disintegration of her marriage. Leaving New York behind, she travels to India to reconnect with her mother’s past. .
The story spans of three generations of women. The novel immersed me in a culture I was unfamiliar with. I was fascinated by the people and descriptions. I could relate to each of these women and the story gave me a window into a different world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, general fiction, or women’s fiction.
A rich, well told, historical/contemporary read. This novel was a wonderful surprise. If you haven’t selected your August first reads choice, this is a good one. I plan to look for more by this author.This book has no language or graphic violence.
Do you have kindle first reads? What book did you pick?
“Readers will find The Road to Bittersweet to be a lovingly crafted coming-of-age novel set in the unforgiving Carolina hills. Everhart understands the mindset of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood as her world fills with hardship, betrayal, and the wonderment of growing up. Readers will be struck by how beautifully Everhart captures the dialect of her well-drawn characters and the landscape – both harsh and beautiful. Here is a story that tugs at the heartstrings with its believability and evocative prose, leaving readers believing there is always hope when a family stands together.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Everhart (The Education ofDixie Dupree, 2016) is a good storyteller and makes her characters and their experiences come alive.” Booklist
I loved this book! I won a signed copy of Donna Everhart’s The Road to Bittersweet from the facebook group A Novel Bee, no strings attached. I enjoyed this novel so much, I asked Donna if she would come and chat with us a bit.
If you like coming of age stories with a strong voice, you should check out Donna’s work. I think The Road to Bittersweet is a great selection for book clubs.
~ GIVE AWAY ~ GIVE AWAY ~ GIVE AWAY! ~
I thought you guys might like this book, so I decided to GIVE AWAY a kindle copy. Details below.
Listen to The Pretty One by Pam Tillis, written about the book, The Road to Bittersweet.
As a reader, I seem to be drawn to historical settings. The Road to Bittersweet is set in the 1940s. Have you always been interested in that particular time in history?
Not so much 1940 in of itself, but really anything from the 70s or earlier. For instance, all of my books take place in the 40s, 50s or 60s. I like writing about those times because while there were complex issues going on relative to what might have been in the news, lifestyles were much simpler than today. For example, there were two, maybe three channels on TV to watch, and TV was the only medium – compared to the hundreds of channels today, plus we have all of these various devices on which we can watch those hundreds of shows. Here’s another one – Oreos. It’s a strange example, but an Oreo cookie used to be this one type of cookie, dark chocolate wafer with a cream filling. Then came Double Stuff. Then came vanilla wafers. Then mint flavored filling. Then colors for holidays. Just the other day I saw . . . Cherry Cola flavored. I bet there might be fifteen varieties of the Oreo cookie now. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
I love Wallis Ann’s resilience and grit. Where did you find the inspiration for her character?
Partly it came from books I’ve read where hardship was overcome through sheer will and determination. For instance, some of my favorite characters who are similar to Wallis Ann would be Julie Harmon from Robert Morgan’s GAP CREEK, or Ruby and Ada in Charles Frazier’s COLD MOUNTAIN. They were confronted by what seem like impossible situations, yet managed to overcome it by working hard, and keeping an attitude of persistence. So, Wallis Ann certainly came from the influence of those stories, plus my own desire to create characters people can relate to and admire for their endurance and fortitude. I would also say there’s a bit of me in these characters I write about, because I’m always thinking, how would I react? What would I do? Would I do this – or not? Etc. etc. Also, there is nothing better, in my opinion, than to have readers come away from a story feeling wrung out, yet happy with how it all turned out.
When you were researching for this book, what historical tidbit or event did you find most interesting?
Some years ago my husband and I hiked to a historic cabin in Doughton Park, NC off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The structure survived the 1916 Basin Cove flood, and this cabin was the impetus for the story. The family that lived there consisted of eight people, two adults and six children, and it was fascinating to know how they lived and thrived there before the flood. It was a very rustic cabin, no bigger than about three hundred square feet. The closest town was eight miles away. They were true survivalists, killing for meat, growing vegetables and fruit trees, hauling water, chopping wood, preserving foods, sewing their own clothes, milking cows, and on and on. Their job was never-ending, but they were used to that hardscrabble life. And yet, I could see how a flood would be an incentive to leave because all they’d worked for would be gone. How would they expect to get back to where they’d been? What if they’d stayed? Could they have recovered? It was interesting to explore these questions.
What life lesson did you learn while writing your novel?
I had no idea where this story was headed at times, or what I was doing, but I kept at it, persevering like Wallis Ann. In a nutshell, perseverance is a wonderful thing – as long as you know when to try a different approach if something isn’t working and don’t beat yourself up over it if the goal you intended to reach shifts – or changes altogether.
What are you working on now?
Well, my third book is done. It’s a story that takes place in 1955, on a cotton farm in Jones County, NC. All of my books are coming of age stories, and my main character in this one is a twelve year old girl named Sonny Creech, a girl who loves cotton farming, her family’s land, and knows how to divine water. After a tragedy, she and her family become entangled with a reclusive, bigoted neighbor. I’m really excited about that story. It’s in the production phase, meaning I’ve already been through the copy editing part. I’ll soon receive page proofs, the final step before it goes to print. The title is THE FORGIVING KIND and it’ll be out in February of 2019.
My newest project is in the really (I mean REALLY) ugly first draft stage. This story’s main character is sixteen year old Jessie Sasser and she’s quite unhappy with her lot in life. Born into a family legacy of moonshining, she wants no part of it because she’s certain this is what killed her mother. So far, I’m having fun with it, while trying not to pull my hair out.
Donna Everhart is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories of family hardship and troubled times in a bygone south. A native of North Carolina, she resides in her home state with her husband and their tiny heart stealing Yorkshire terrier, Mister. Readers can visit her at www.donnaeverhart.com.
Thank you for visiting with us, Donna! I can’t wait to read The Forgiving Kind.
Giveaway Time! I am giving away one kindle copy of The Road to Bittersweet. Click here to go to the entry form or enter below.
“You think you have a view of what’s waiting for you just up the road, but then something happens, and you find out pretty quick you were looking at the wrong road.”
“Life is wonderful and beautiful but oh, how hard it can be.”
The Brights live in a small town, but after a tragedy, decide to move to the city for a fresh start and to take over an uncle’s funeral parlor business in hopes of a better life.
The Brights’ story begins in 1918 Pittsburgh during the pandemic of the Spanish Influenza. During this time of upheaval due to the spread of the disease and war, Maggie, then a young girl of thirteen, comes across a baby and takes him home.
This novel is told from the multiple viewpoints of the women in the Bright family, Pauline Bright, the mother, and the three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa.
A wonderfully told tale of loss, love, and learning to do the best you can with what you are given.
I have always been fascinated by the stories that come out of historical events. The great flu pandemic changed the face of the world, and I am surprised to learn so many are not aware of the impact the Spanish Flu had.Susan Meissner takes the facts and weaves a spell binding novel of family drama with touches of romance and mystery. I finished this book in two days.
I especially enjoyed the splash of rebellion against conformity that the youngest sister adds!
The novel has a satisfying ending, even though not everything issunshine and roses. If you liked Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, you may enjoy As Bright As Heaven. All in all, a very good read and recommended for book clubs.
As a side note, with the audio version it was difficult at times to tell the characters apart due to the similarities in the readers’ voices. This was not the fault of the narrators. The performance was fine, but they simply sounded too much alike at times. I noticed a sudden shifting in volume as well but it wasn’t enough to stop me from listening.
“A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”
“There are only two kinds of men in this world: Honest men and dishonest men. …Any man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest. The same God that made you and me made this earth. And He planned it so that it would yield every single thing that the people on it need. But He was careful to plan it so that it would only yield up its wealth in exchange for the labor of man. Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest.”
This was one of my favorite books when I was very young. I thought it might be time to revisit it. It did not disappoint, but I was surprised at one of the things I had forgotten! (see spoiler) Little Britches is the first book in a series of eight.
Ralph Moody’s Little Britches is set in 1906 when the Moody family moves to Colorado to work a dirt farm. Some people have referred to Ralph Moody’s books as Little House for boys. The narration is told from an eight year old boy’s point of view and has a sense of adventure about it. The story telling is down to earth and authentic.
The characters are rich and believable. Little Britches reminds me of the stories my grandmother used to tell me about working on the dairy farm and doing things like driving a milk delivery truck when she was a girl.
Ralph is given much freedom and responsibility. He regularly gets into scrapes as boys are apt to do. The book is full of strong moral lessons that flow from the story quite naturally. Ralph has a great deal of respect and love for his father, who is a quiet man full of wisdom and advice. The portrayal of the father son relationship is a touching one.
Mother regularly reads literature to the family and occasionally quotes the Bible. The family members also amuse themselves by performing plays.
This book is a picture of how life was during that short period of Ralph’s life and contains both humor and sadness.
An excellent read aloud.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Cameron Beierle and found it to be well done.
Issues that may be of concern (contains spoilers)
There is minor language from cowboys, water wars, tornado, hard living, fistfights, spankings, farm injuries, general rough and tumble incidents such as being thrown from a mule, ill parent, serious illness, death of a parent
There is a mention, without any gruesomeness at all, of a water bag made of a whole dog skin. I have no idea how I forgot that!
The hardback I read as a child and now own is an edition similar to this one, minus the dust cover. I love the drawings throughout.