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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

13 / 30 books. 43% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
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My Progress:

35 / 51 states. 69% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

29 / 50 books. 58% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

23 / 50 books. 46% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

42 / 52 books. 81% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

29 / 40 books. 73% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

16 / 40 books. 40% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

11 / 25 books. 44% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

17 / 26.2 miles (2nd lap). 65% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

30 / 100 books. 30% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

74 / 104 books. 71% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

50 / 52 books. 96% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

84 / 165 books. 51% done!
Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Lakeside Healing Novel A Wordy, Just Okay Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

It's been a year since Susannah Gilmore's husband of 20 years died in a bicycle accident and she's still trying to pick up the pieces.  In an effort to start over, the widow moves herself and her two teens from Brooklyn to her family's summer cottage in tiny Eastwood, New Hampshire.  Sixteen-year-old Calista is already boiling over with grief and anger; relocation to the middle of nowhere only makes her more surly.  Her younger brother tries to keep the peace, but the tension in the family never seems to cease, despite their tranquil new surroundings.

When Susannah discovers an intriguing item—a love note addressed to her mother, written in a script that is not her father's—in the house, she finds a needed distraction.  That's not the only thing grabbing her attention, though.  She's researching another puzzling mystery for a novel she's writing, spending more time than she should thinking about handsome Corbin Bailey, and desperately trying to ease her family's heartbreak so they can heal together.  Can Susannah find the answers she's looking for, the peace she's seeking, and the second love she doesn't know she needs?  

The wounded-woman-coming-home-to-heal trope is one I'm always up for, especially when it's done well.  The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough fits the first bill, but not necessarily the second.  While the novel has some compelling elements, it's way too long and wordy.  Susannah is a sympathetic heroine, but she's also a selfish, annoying pushover who lets her bratty teenager call all the shots.  I had a hard time respecting her or really caring all that much about her plight.  In the end, then, I found The House on Primrose Pond to be an okay read, nothing more.  

(Readalikes:  A million titles should be coming to mind, but I'm drawing a blank.  Help!)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), innuendo/sexual content, and references to illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

1957 Amish Novel a Sweet, Enjoyable Little Gem

(Image from Barnes & Noble)
Esther Lapp loves life in her small Pennsylvania Amish community.  Her days revolve around helping her parents on their farm, studying the Bible with her aunt, and socializing and worshipping with other Plain folks.  Among others like her, the 9-year-old never gets mocked for her unusual lifestyle or stared at because of the simple clothes she wears.  

Everything changes when community officials visit the Lapp's farm, informing them that Esther must comply with Pennsylvania's compulsory education law or else.  Even though she's nervous about being out in the sinful world, Esther's excited to see what school is all about.  Unlike her older brother, Daniel, she would never get herself Shunned by leaving her Amish community, but she soon finds herself amazed at all the outside has to offer!  As Esther gains a new perspective, she starts to question the things she's always been taught and the way she's always lived.  Trying to make sense of the two contradicting worlds in which she now lives, Esther must find her way in a strange, new existence that challenges her worldview, her beliefs, and her faith.

When I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading novels about Amish life, my writer friend Kimberley Griffiths Little recommended Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen.  Although the book was published in 1957, I'd never heard of it.  A pity, because it tells a sweet, simple story that's deeper than it appears to be at first glance.  It's a short novel, written for a middle grade audience, that asks some intriguing questions about tradition vs. change, faith vs. fear, tolerance vs. judgement, and forgiveness vs. anger.  That might sound too "churchy" for modern MG readers, but really, the lessons Plain Girl teaches are subtle and universal ones about embracing one's own identity and not just accepting other people's differences, but also learning from them.  Like Kimberley, I highly recommend this little gem of a book, which I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I've never read another children's book about the Amish, so I'm not sure to what I can compare Plain Girl.  Any ideas?)


 If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Plain Girl from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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