Monday, December 20, 2010

Sequel, Trilogy, Series?

In this third middle grade novel set in the North Carolina mountains in the nineteen sixties, Livy Two continues to give us a front row seat at the Weems family gatherings where all sorts of plans and dreams and schemes are afoot. Daddy’s recovery from his automobile accident is not going as smoothly as hoped. He hears radio songs in his head and seems to remember only one of his children, the one who moved away.

LOUISIANA’S SONG by Kerry Madden, Viking 2007

Now we meet another strong Weems woman, Louise, the painter. She’d rather paint than talk and besides, she can always turn to her sister Livy Two for the talking. It takes quite a sales job on Livy Two’s part to convince Louise that she should sell street-side charcoal sketches of passersby to tourists in Waynesville.

Considering the dire state of finances in the Weems family and that Grandma Horace continues to pressure the family to move to Enka-Stinka (as Livy Two calls the town) so Mama can get a job with Champion Paper or American Enka which will pay regular and give benefits and, well, the reader can see that everyone needs to get a job and help out.

Mama knits sweaters and baby blankets for sale. Emmett has already gone off to work at Ghost Town in the Sky, promising to send money home, but Livy Two isn’t satisfied with how he makes good on this promise. She gets a job in the bookmobile. Becksie gets a job in the Pancake House.

With people and bills coming and going, Livy Two struggles to love the dad who taught her to sing. A talented songwriter and singer who has yet to reap monetary rewards, Livy Two uses her music to cope. She writes a new song, “...and I sing like I’ll never quit, because it’s only when I’m singing that I can quit hurting for Daddy and start loving him again the way I used to.”

Songs are scattered throughout the prose, and the family’s stories will sing in the reader’s heart long after the last page is turned.

What’s next? Will the family have to move to Grandma Horace’s home in Enka, start a new school, give up the wild freedom of their mountain home? Will the radio in Daddy’s head ever be quieted? Will he remember all of his children?

Do you suppose the author could be persuaded to write another novel or two? When does a sequel become a series?


  1. Kerry's three Maggie Valley novels are a constant inspiration to me. Content, form, voice,'s all there. I've just re-read them all again (my fifth or sixth time, really), which is what I do with favorite-favorites when I'm revising. These novels are a challenge to my own writing; they remind me of the quality I want to reach for.

  2. What a great tip for writers slogging along in revision mode. It's like going to the movies the night before an exam after you've spent hours preparing for it. I like your idea better. The movie might be restful. Reading a favorite book is inspirational.


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