DNF at 50%
Because I so loved the author’s debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, I picked up Looking For Me (Penguin, 2013) by Beth Hoffman on my Kindle.
Looking For Me was a different story and writing style than CeeCee. The narrator, Teddie Overman, is an adult woman (as opposed to the adolescent CeeCee), and the first half of the story fluctuates between her current life as a single antique furniture refurbisher in Charleston and her childhood memories of growing up on a farm in Kentucky. In particular, Teddie is trying to piece together what happened to her brother, Josh, who mysteriously disappeared many years ago.
While the writing is cozy, safe and sweet, the stories – both past and present – meander along for hundreds of pages without any sense of urgency, direction, or plot. At about halfway in, when nothing more seemed to be happening outside Teddie’s furniture business, I skipped ahead to see if she’d make any progress, solve the mystery of her missing brother, or experience any interesting revelations otherwise. Nothing more unfolds or is determined, other than an eventual love interest, who is fairly unrelated to the rest of the story and isn’t prevalent enough to deem the novel a romance.
Because the story in general lacked plot and direction, and a resolution was missing from the ending, I was not invested enough to go back and read the remaining 50%. The writing, however, is good. This title may appeal to readers of southern lit and fans of Fannie Flagg, or anyone seeking a story featuring a mature narrator with slow, easy pacing and real-life settings.
This is a wonderful DA diary taking place during the Great Depression in the Texas Panhandle. At this time, those who lived in the prairies were hit for several years by terrible drought and dust storms (caused by farmers’ improper treatment of topsoil coupled with strong winds and a severe drought) that nearly ruined the land and peoples’ homes and ways of life. Grace, our 12 year old narrator, is a mature and hardworking young girl who, with her scatterbrained and imaginative 7 year old sister Ruth, make for memorable characters.
I had never heard of the “Dust Bowl” before reading this book, and I certainly learned a lot. In the end, I was positively floored that this book was written by a fifteen year old. Katelan Janke had won a “write your own Dear America novel” contest. Once again, I was floored, as this is one of the better-written books in the series. A great read.
“Standing in the Light” is a beautiful story that stands (no pun intended) on its own, even outside of the DA series. In this diary, thirteen-year-old farmgirl Caty is just like any other Quaker girl in her Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania society, until she and her seven-year-old brother Thomas are abducted by Lenape Indians. At first, she detests the “savages” who stole her from her home and altered her entire life as she knew it, and she dreaded the worst for her and her brother– torture or death. But as the Lenape treat them kindly and incorporate them into their families and village, Caty and her brother learn the Lenape’s ways, become part of them, and begin to love them.
(*SPOILER WARNING*) Caty’s affection for the Indians grows to the point where she falls in love with a fellow English-captive-turned-Native, and is subsequently miserable upon her eventual “rescue” and return home to her family. Because of her transformation among and love for the Indians, no one in her society can relate to her, nor even wants to associate with her any longer.
This book ends sadly. Being one of the few white people in her village with compassion for Natives, she is unfortunately destined for a lonely and misunderstood life. Also evident throughout this novel are undertones of religious and spiritual unity, as this devout Quaker girl comes to understand her Christian God as the same being as the Indians’ Great Spirit, only called by a different name. A hauntingly touching and tragic story, and one which I enthusiastically recommend.