Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Book Review: Gentle's Holler

Kerry Madden's Gentle's Holler was another book I selected because it is a nominee for a Young Hoosier Book Award. Lately, it seems I have been drawn to books about the South. I'm not sure what started this trend. Perhaps, psychologically, I am more interesting in books about country living, now that I live in the country as opposed to a college town near the big city.

This was a delightful read. It tells the story of a twelve year old girl, Livy Two, who lives with her parents and eight siblings in a holler in North Carolina. The cast of characters within this family are amusing and endearing. The father keeps hoping to write a best-selling banjo hit. The older brother is dealing with his role as eldest among so many girls. The younger sister, Gentle, seems to have something wrong with her eyes, though they can't afford a doctor. Despite being unable to feed his family, the father decides the kids really need a dog. Plus, a cranky grandmother, shows up after an absence of five years.

Although the book is laced with difficulties and tragedy, it is a lovingly-told tale and the narrator's voice is strong and true. Author Rosemary Wells, considers Livy Two to be "as bone-real and as endearing as Kate DiCamillo's Opal in Because of Winn-Dixie." I couldn't agree more.

In researching, to learn a bit more about Kerry Madden, I discovered that she intends this to be one of a trilogy. I believe the second book, which features the sister, Louise, is already out and is called Louisiana's Song. The third book is supposed to follow the tale of the older brother, however, the first two seem to be billed as middle-grade fiction and the brother's book is more of a young adult book. I will definitely keep my eye out for the sequels to this lovely book.

I should have done a bit more research than I did. I appreciated the comment from Kerry Madden. She has already published two sequels to Gentle's Holler, entitled Louisiana's Song and Jessie's Mountain (which reveals a journal from the mother, Jessie, set in the 1940s). For more information, check out her website.


Kerry Madden said...

Dear Wendy,
Thank you for your lovely review of GENTLE'S HOLLER. It came out in 2005, followed by LOUISIANA'S SONG in 2007, and the newest, JESSIE'S MOUNTAIN, was just published in February. Jessie has the mother's diary from the 1940s in the book...I am working on one of the brother's books now...Anyway, thanks so much for your lovely review. It sounds like you live a little like the Weems being out in the country. Hope you have a good summer with your family.

All best
Kerry Madden

Wendy said...

Kerry - What a wonderful surprise to find a response from the author posted within minutes of my posting of the review! I will keep my eye out for the two other sequels. In reading one of your interviews, I could certainly relate to your comment about feeling more like a cheerleader for writers than a writer. That is how I feel for now. Glad to hear that you are publishing more. You are a splendid writer.

Anonymous said...

Wendy~ That is so neat that the author picked up on your review so quickly and was thoughtful enough to comment to you! My brother has mentioned, working in academia, that there are amazing software programs out there to search for wording to crack down on plagiarism and also programs that notify him by email alerts when certain key words or people's names are published anywhere on the Internet. Remember Cardiogirl's Comcast issue? I'm sure that's how that was picked up. ~Karin