Carla Stewart's debut novel gives us a delightful look into life in Graham Camp, Texas, in the late 1950's. The main character, Sammie Tucker, is a young teenager who is facing some serious family struggles. Sammie's search to understand what's happening and how to deal with it is a riveting story that will stay in your heart long after you finish the last page. I will look forward to reading Carla Stewart's next book.
I found this novel very emotional. The main character, Sammie, is a twelve year-old girl who is deep and thoughtful and has adult problems. Problems no kid should have to deal with, yet I think thats why, as a reader, I connected with Sammie.The very first chapter reeled me into the story. Those first few pages made the book and enticed me with the characters and the plot. Carla set the scenes nicely I felt like I was back in my own childhood, the same scents and touches that I remember from growing up. The chapters ended with a solid hook, urging me to continue to read. An awesome debut novel!
I hesitate to review this one, as the author has been a friend for some years. When you review a friend, it is easy to be either too hard on them or too easy on them because of the friendship. But friend or no, this book completely knocked my socks off. I knew Carla could write, but I had no idea she could write like this. She had me in tears in the first ten pages. I was completely humbled by a gift for writing that could get you that completely invested in her characters that quickly, and keep you that invested right up until the last page. The problems Sammie faces make the book relevant for teens, but Carla's immense gift for drawing you into the life of the oil camp of the fifties makes it relevant for older folks as well. I suspect this one is going to be a classic, along the lines of To Kill a Mockingbird or Cold Sassy Tree, but without dipping into the same overused well of the post-reconstruction South. It wraps you in the same warm feeling of coming of age in a small community, well drawn characters and tight plot that delves into something that you possibly don't want to think about. Don't miss it. And if you have the chance to get Carla to sign it, don't miss that either. I suspect that autograph may be worth something in the future.
Its 1958, and in the corner of the Texas panhandle is a tiny town called Graham Camp. Sammie Tucker, not quite thirteen, is about to face some fierce storms in her life, and her entire world will never, ever be the same again. Chasing Lilacs is Carla Stewarts debut novel, and the bittersweet flavor of its story will linger in my heart for quite some time.There is something important about coming-of-age stories that reveal basic truths about the human condition. Sammie Tucker experiences more in the span on one year than any child should ever experience in a lifetime. Yet her resiliency is believable and her character is filled with a hunger for truth and substance that keeps her moving forward with purpose and hope. My heart ached for this child the entire story, and even now, after Ive read the final pages, Sammies character haunts me.Stewart creates a VERY realistic pre-teen, and her struggles are those of every child on the brink of adulthood. She is forced to deal with some very hard and painful situations within her family, and her childhood friends both help and hinder her as she navigates the tumult that surrounds her. There are even some unexpected plot twists that only serve to enhance this beloved story, and the ending is completely satisfying without tying things up too neatly.Chasing Lilacs gives me every reason to hope that we will be reading much more of Carla Stewarts writing. Young adults, and old adults alike will be touched and entertained by this wonderful debut novel!