Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Carla Stewart's Chasing Lilacs ~ Reviewed
By Carla Stewart
Published by Faith Words
It's the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.
As her life careens out of control. Sammie has to choose whom to trust with her deepest fears: her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious boy from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.
Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.
This gripping story is told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old, yet Carla Stewart resisted making her precocious and overly mature. Sammie's emotional journey and her reactions to the events in this story are true to life. While she faces some devastating experiences, the story remains remarkably light.
The other people in Sammie's life are as complex and appealing as she is, except perhaps Aunt Vadine. I didn't like that woman one bit. Oh, don't get me wrong. She was very well written. So much so, I had a strong reaction to her.
You'll lose some sleep if you read at night. This novel is a page-turner that I didn't want to end. Prepare to fall in love with Sammie and her friends. Chasing Lilacs is a thoroughly delightful and well-written debut novel. Novel Journey and I give it a very high recommendation.
Reviewed by: Ane Mulligan, editor Novel Journey
Take note of the name of debut author Carla Stewart, you are certain to be seeing it often in the future. Chasing Lilacs is a beautifully wrought story about Sammie, a young girl dealing with more than her fair share of pain as her mother's mental health deteriorates, her father withdraws and she becomes intrigued by troubled teen, Cly MacLemore. The story is told through Sammie's eyes, as she wrestles with confusion, guilt and fledgling love in a poignant and believable way. As Sammie tries to make sense of her mother's depression, the personality altering treatment and her eventual death you will feel her shattering pain. As she takes tentative steps towards healing, you will know real joy. A complex look at family, friendship and faith, written with simplicity and tender emotion, Chasing Lilacs is an exceptional debut novel.
Reviewed by: Rel Mollet