Saturday, October 6, 2012

GUEST REVIEW: Gentle's Holler by Kerry Madden

Allison, our teen and adult programmer here at BCPL, has a new guest review for you! 

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Younger Teens/Tweens (middle school)
Series: Maggie Valley #1

Summary: Livy Two Weems is a young girl in North Carolina, who dreams of being a songwriter but is always brought out of her dreams by her nine younger siblings.  Her father is an aspiring banjo player, her mother is constantly the rock of the family.  Livy Two is growing up poor and only wants to make things better for her poverty stricken family, especially her younger sister Gentle, who is blind.  Tragedy strikes, and Gentle is trying to come to grips with it, and help her family survive the turmoil in its wake.

Allison's Review:
When I was younger I read The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings, and when I picked up Gentle’s Holler I was not expecting to find the same story. The blurb on the inside cover made me want to read about Livy Two, whose twin sister Olivia died at birth and to whom she sometimes prayed. I wanted to read about the poverty-stricken family and Livy Two’s sibling who was blind. I wanted something new. If I hadn’t already read The Yearling, I may have really enjoyed the story.  However, Gentle’s Holler seemed more like an endeavor to retell Rawlings's classic tale.

There are some really touching parts of the story, like Livy Two’s dedication to finding something to help her younger sister Gentle function as normal without her sight. When Livy’s older brother Emmet leaves the family, we are drawn in to her heartbreak. When Grandma Horace arrives to help the family out of despair, the reader can genuinely feel the tension between family members.  And, when Livy’s father is desperately hanging onto life, I could identify with her fears and emotional state. 

I’m not sorry I took the time to read the book, but I wish that the writer would give us something a little more original to ponder.

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