Friday, January 8, 2016

Title Turns Reader into Rebel

Warning: this book can create a different kind of reader—a rebel reader. I was not a rebellious ten year old, but if this book was in my hands when I was that age and it was time for bed, I’d have begged my mom, “Just let me finish the chapter.” —not saying which chapter.  After that, I’d have risked the consequences for taking a flashlight under the covers so I could turn the next  page, or two or…

LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS by Lisa Lewis Tyre, Nancy Paulsen Books, 2015

Lou is twelve and definitely qualifies as “spunky” – which links her with her maternal grandmother, Bertie, but I’m getting ahead of the story.  The summer before the great and scary “junior high” years begin finds Lou and her life-long friends caught up in a mystery that threatens to tear their friendships apart.

The historical background of Lou’s family home which sits in the middle of the growing town of Zollicoffer, Tennessee is part of the mystery. Built in the mid-1860’s, the house’s secret room also links generations. Each chapter begins in diary form and deepens the mystery.

From a century old Civil War stolen gold scandal to the family-owned junk business her father runs today, Lou finds her head spinning with questions that rise to Heaven. After all, she prayed for an exciting summer. Is this really what she wanted?  It was right after that fervent prayer that she learned about the county’s plan to take her family’s property by eminent domain.  Whatever this means, Lou is determined to save her home, creaky boards, peeling wallpaper, and secret room (especially). No pressure. Add the University of Tennessee football National Championship in 1998, that Lou’s friend doesn’t get a football scholarship to UT because the high school coach is a bigot, and Lou’s list of things to fix gets longer before it gets shorter. Again, no pressure.

Lou’s friends are warm, smart, funny, and work together as only good friends with a shared history could. Grandmother Bertie’s lines are unexpected and as colorful as she is. (Note: no profanity.)

I have a hunch author Tyre has carried these characters inside her head for a long time which is one reason they are fully developed on the page. This reader wonders what happens to these people next. Is there a sequel to this debut novel? 
Visit the author to find out how and why she wrote the book -- oh, and there are hidden bits of treasure in the text.

Who knows? This book could hook some non-readers, too. On page one Lou must endure the car pool line. She spots her dad’s shaky old dump truck lurching toward her, knowing as she witnesses this humiliation that the queen of snark is somewhere within viewing distance preparing an unwelcome comment. What pre-teen wouldn’t relate to that?    

Rebel readers. I like the sound of that.



  1. Great review! I had the privilege of hearing some of this novel in critique, and know this author is as warm and funny and caring in person as her characters are on the page. Thanks Joan

  2. This is the kind of story behind the book that's fun to pass along. Thanks, Sandy.


Hillview School Library