"I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars." ~ Fred Allen
I’m old enough to remember Fred Allen, so thought I’d pass this little quote along. It made me smile. And wonder about my sanity just a little.
I also have a couple of little gifts for the writers among my readers. The first is an interesting blog about not blogging. Not kidding. It’s an thought-provoking read. http://blog.liviablackburne.com/2011/07/author-blogging-youre-doing-it-wrong.html The second is a site that has a wealth of information for writers. Check out her blogroll and categories on the right-hand side. Wow. This is definitely worth bookmarking and checking often. http://www.annemini.com/
Now to the meat of the blog post this time. I had an email from an author recently who asked if I might read her new book and possibly review it on my blog. Since I hope people will do the same for me someday soon, I’m always happy to take a look. It’s a risk, because not every book published is a great read. I’m happy to say, in this case, I had a fun time reading the book and have lots of nice things to say about it.
The book is The Summer of Hammers and Angels. The author, Shannon Wiersbitzky, had the good fortune to work with über editor Steven Roxburgh on this book, and it shows. It is a tight little page-turner of a coming-of-age novel with one of the strongest voices I’ve run across in a long time.
Young Delia, living in the small town of Tucker’s Ferry, West Virginia, is the only child of her single mother who works as a waitress at the local diner. Mama isn’t much of a housekeeper and certainly not a home-repair maven. The house is pretty much falling down around their ears. A home inspector shows up unexpectedly and serves them with notice that if a long list of things isn’t fixed and soon, he will have no choice but to condemn the place. Incidentally, he doesn’t seem to mind that he has no choice.
Needless to say, Mama is furious. That night, a storm of equal ferocity comes to town. Lightning strikes the house, and Delia finds her mother unconscious with burns on her hand. A small fire has started, and Delia can’t move her mother or get her to wake up. Delia runs to the Parkers’ house next door to find help. Thus begins a long, long journey for young Delia.
The Parkers are good people who take Delia in. The only problem is her nemesis, Tommy Parker, is their son. We are never told the exact age of these children, but one must guess it is somewhere around ten or eleven, a time when boys and girls gag at the very thought of each other. This, of course, sets up a strong secondary conflict in the book.
Delia calls on her best friend, Mae, to help her fix her house while Mama lingers in an unconscious state at the local hospital. These two young girls are resourceful and bring great energy to the project. They take on odd jobs to earn money for the materials needed, and we meet some of the interesting people in Tucker's Ferry. But the reality is, the girls know little about fixing anything. Tommy Parker shows up and, it turns out, he has mad skills at fixing things. The children get to work and make some real progress. Tommy gets a little full of himself, drags a ladder from his house, and, over the protests of the girls, climbs to the roof to take a look around. You know this can’t be good. But I don’t want to ruin anything for you, so let’s just say things get worse before they have any chance of getting better.
Delia learns much about herself and the people around her as she trudges through this troubling summer. She is an engaging character, one the reader will be rooting for the entire way through this charming story. Delia’s telling of this story in her own words is absolutely convincing. You will hear her Southern twang clearly in your head and recognize the thoughts and feelings of a young girl from a small town on a mission from which no one can deter her. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Take a little trip to Tucker’s Ferry, West Virginia and enjoy the summer of Delia’s dilemma. Let her introduce you to the quirky characters in her hometown and tell you the story herself.
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