Friday, December 17, 2010

Taking Time to Read

If you’re going to write about books, you need to read them. And that’s where I’ve been: reading, reading, reading. Ever since I met the author, I’ve wanted to read three books set in one of my favorite parts of the country, the Lake Junaluska area, near Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The bonus in discovering these books a few years after publication is that I got to read all three right away and didn’t have to wait and wonder and wish.

GENTLE’S HOLLER by Kerry Madden, Viking, 2005

This is about strong women. Grandma Horace wants to help, but she’s so mean I wanted to tell her to go home. Mama is Grandma Horace’s determined daughter. (Hmm. Wonder where that determination came from?) Livy Two, who tells this charming and warm-hearted story, is just as hard-headed as her mother and grandmother.

Livy Two Weems has never been outside the North Carolina hills, not in her whole twelve years, but she knows her songs will take her to far away places–some day. In the meantime, her daddy’s trying to write a banjo hit, little sister Gentle needs to be seen by an eye doctor that costs money the family doesn’t have, Mama is busy with a new baby, and the rest of the eight brothers and sisters keep Livy Two scrambling, as any big sister can understand.

It’s the early sixties. The rest of the world leaks in now and then. The family knows about civil rights protests. They are shocked and saddened by the assassination of President Kennedy. But this is not their everyday life. Here, in their home at the end of a bumpy road, the Weems siblings hold secret meetings in sun dappled glens and listen to the music of a singing creek. Money may be a problem, but they are wealthy in all the ways that count.

My favorite quote: “Do you know how much folks need to hope?” This is Livy Two’s father encouraging her to sing her songs.

And she does, in the next two books.

Tomorrow: Jesse’s Mountain

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