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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Named a most anticipated book for Summer 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly and USA Today, NPR, and People summer reads pick A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls’-school rituals, set in the 1930s South It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, …

Overall Book Review:

I love books that are written in the style that this one is written in. I am unsure what to call it, or how to explain it, but if you have read any of Curtis Sittenfeld’s books, you will know what kind of writing I am talking about. It is fresh and blunt. The characters are realistic–almost to the point of jumping off the page. This book is marvelous, and I want more!

So, the term “coming of age” hasn’t always meant a whole lot me. It seems like it is often used to refer to books–slapped haphazardly here and there. This book is the epitome of “coming of age”. It’s about a group of girls at a horse riding camp (or school, depending on who you are), but more particularly about one girl, Thea Atwell. In some ways, it seemed like Thea was at this camp to enjoy herself, while being educated. However, there were times that Thea’s past caught up to her, and as a reader I was able to glean a little of her backstory, and just exactly why she was at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp. These little bits of her life before came only every once and a while, but by the end of the book, I could see how all of the pieces fit together.

If you are going to read this book, you will want to give it all of your attention. So I would suggest clearing a few nights for it and enjoying it to the fullest extent possible. I didn’t see many of the things coming, and I always love to be surprised when I am reading. This is a book for older young adults and full grown-adults, although it is focused on girls that are in their early teens. I would say this is a great summer read!

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  3 religious exclamations; 2 mild obscenities.

Violence/Gore:  A girl whips her horse to train it; a doll is stolen by a girl from a playmate; insects sting a character; a minor is mentioned to have a broken arm from an accident on a horse; dead animals are mentioned to have been found in a yard; a character is mentioned to have been kicked in the neck by a horse and perishing; a woman is mentioned to find her baby dead in its bed; a character is mentioned to commit suicide by drinking chemicals; a girl thinks about methods of killing yourself; a man shoots himself on purpose as an attempt at suicide; a girl falls from her horse and breaks several bones; a brief scene involving a ouija board and talking to spirits is described; minors are mentioned to have eaten poisoned berries and died from it; an injured boy is mentioned to be bleeding; a cousin is mentioned to die, no detail is given; a miscarriage is mentioned with no detail.

Sex/Nudity:  A group of girls undresses for bed in front of each other, this makes some of them uncomfortable; a woman mentions getting “in trouble with a boy”; girls bathe in front of each other; a minor girl stares at nude bathing girls; a minor female is mentioned to be nearly nude in front of a doctor, and aware of her changing body; a female and male cousin sleep in the same bed in a non-sexual way; minor-age cousins kiss in a sexual way; two minors are involved with each other sexually in a scene that is not explicit, but does have some brief detail; a minor boy is seen nude by a minor girl in a non-sexual way; a girl feels sexual urges and briefly describes them; a minor girl sees a minor boys’ privates and describes them briefly; a minor couple has sex and touches each other sensually in one brief scene that is not explicit in detail; a minor female pursues a sexual relationship with an adult male; a minor female and an adult married man have sex in two brief scenes with some nudity; a minor girl mentions how sex feels; minors sneak out to meet each other, sex is implied to occur; an adult man touches a girl sexually with her consent in one brief scene.

Mature Subject Matter:

Family/personal crises, underage drinking, suicide contemplated, unwanted pregnancy, marriage infidelity, death of a family member.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Minor boys are mentioned to have prohibited flasks of beer; man drinks hard liquor; adults drink port; minors are mentioned to sneak a smoke; a minor girl is mentioned to be drunk.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.