Oklahoma City, OK
Memorable - that is what first comes to mind about Carla's debut novel."Chasing Lilacs" had me hooked from the first chapter. Carla's way of describing the characters & the setting makes you feel as though you were right there with them in Graham Camp, Texas in summer of 1959. The picture that came to mind when "Sammie" described Graham Camp is that of small town America as it use to be - people go to church, gossip about their neighbors, enjoy community picnics, and support each other in times of trouble. Samantha "Sammie" Tucker, is twelve years old and her summer turns chaotic as she must deal with a mother with "nerve" problems, an unknown & unwanted aunt that comes to visit, a fourteen year old boy who comes from California bringing his own problems, kind & wise neighbors with their own secrets and a best friend who is sometimes difficult to deal with. Just when I thought I knew where the story was heading and how things were going to turn out, Carla would add a twist. But it was those twists that kept my interest hooked and kept the story "real" to me. The further into the book I read, the more I felt as if I was actually getting to know these people and the community they lived in. I rode the emotional roller coaster right along with them - joy, despair, anger, curiosity, love, sadness. Through all that Sammie experienced as the story evolved, she struggled with trust the most. Sammie not only had to learn who she could trust, but also that accepting the truth may be even harder than she ever thought. Woven into the story is the message that trust in God, even in times when it seems nothing can help, is what will get you through. It is this lesson Sammie finally learns in a moment she least expects it. I could use so many adjectives to describe this novel and they would all apply - Remarkable, Unforgettable, Powerful, Masterful. Carla is a very talented writer and I am eager for her next novel. "Chasing Lilacs" is a must read for everyone.