Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl Review and Giveaway

Thought for the day:

“You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by. Yes, but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by.” ~ James M. Barrie

A gift for my writer friends:

 Here are a couple of links I think you will find valuable.

Article on How Rejection Breeds Creativity:

I was interviewed this week on Kathryn Fitzmaurice's blog! WooHoo! If you'd like to take a peek, you can see it by clicking HERE. It was a lot of fun for me. Thanks, Kathryn!

For my fabulous giveaway, the winner is Joanne Fritz! (Cue the confetti!) Joanne, I will be sending you a copy of Clementine and the Family Meeting. Joanne is also a children’s writer. You can read her blog named My Brain on Books by clicking HERE. There’s an interesting reason for the title of her blog. Hop on over and find out why. I have another giveaway for today, so stay tuned.

I am in an email group called Goals Buddies. It’s a group of writers who have connected through attending workshops at the Highlights Foundation. We email each other about our works in progress, goals we have for our writing, and our successes. One of the members, Shannon Hitchcock, had her first book come out in November. She was kind enough to send me a copy, and I want to tell all of you about it. The Ballad of Jessie Pearl is a story that is based on her family history, and her passion for her subject is apparent in her remarkable writing.

It is 1922 and fourteen-year-old Jessie Pearl Hennings is faced with helping her sister Carrie as Carrie prepares to deliver her first baby. Carrie’s husband, Frank, has gone for the doctor, but if they don’t get back in time, it will be up to Jessie. Their mother died some time ago, and Pa won’t be any help. But it isn’t the doctor who comes. It’s Maude Patterson, who “looks more like a witch than a granny woman.” Carrie doesn’t seem to regain her strength after the birth and has a cough she can’t shake. Although Jessie finally returns to school, so important to her dreams of becoming a teacher, she comes home early on a hunch to find Carrie sound asleep in the middle of the day,  running a high fever, and baby Ky hungry, in his crib. When the doctor comes, the news is bad. Carrie has tuberculosis. She insists on staying home and refuses the idea of going to a sanatorium. The danger of contagion is great, and Ky has to go live with another sister, Anna. Carrie needs nursing and who comes to help but Maude Patterson.

“Moving past Maude, I trudge down the hall to my room and drop the carpetbag on the floor. Since Frank’s staying in the room we keep for company, she’ll have to sleep with me. I’d rather have a big old boil on my butt.” 

Shannon Hitchcock
Maude turns out to be the perfect person for this job and does much to hold this family together through Carrie’s terrifying illness. Jessie has to drop out of school before graduating from eighth grade after Carrie’s death, to raise Ky and to keep the house running. Her best friend, J.T., becomes more than a friend and Jessie realizes she loves him. Things seem to be getting better when the terrible news comes that Anna has tuberculosis. It is almost too much for Jessie to bear, but there is hope. Anna’s illness was discovered earlier and she decides to fight the illness by making the hard decision to leave her home and family and go to a sanatorium. Again, Maude steps in to help the family.

J.T. leaves town to get a job, and Jessie doesn’t hear from him. A girl with whom she had gone to school, Liza, has often tried to come between Jessie and J.T., wanting him for herself. When Jessie doesn’t hear from J.T., she assumes he has moved on. It isn’t until after widower Frank takes up with Liza, that she confesses to Jessie that she has done something terrible.

“Patches comes running and we head toward the fishing shack. My brogans crunch against the frozen ground, and I ache for J.T. Ache to see his smile, feel his hair tangled in my fingers, his arms holding me tight.
I let myself in the cabin and pull up a chair. I close my eyes, reliving every time I was here with him.
I can see the future barreling toward me like a runaway train.”

But Jessie has never given up on her dreams – of J.T. or of becoming a teacher. How she makes sense of all that is quite a story.

Shannon has created a wonderful story that will capture readers young and old, anyone from upper-middle grade on up. The characters and setting are both well-researched and compellingly real. Readers will enjoy living with them for a day or two in this lovely little book. You can find out more about Shannon and her book by clicking HERE.

You might win a gently-read, signed copy of The Ballad of Jessie Pearl. I will put your name in my proverbial hat if you are kind enough to leave a comment. Link this post on your blog or Facebook or Tweet about it, let me know, and your name will be entered twice.

Don’t forget to stop by Shannon Messenger’s wonderful blog for more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday links. Click HERE to find it.

On the book giveaway, this is for U.S. only. Sorry, but it would be too expensive for me to send books out of the country. But please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. Remember, if you have trouble leaving a comment, click on the title of the post and it will give you just this post with a comments section on the bottom. Also, if you haven’t signed up by email, please do. Just look in the upper right-hand corner of this page, pop your email address in, and you will receive an email each time I put up a new post. Your information will not be shared with anyone.