Tag Archives: coming of age

Friday Favorites | Quote from J.D. Salinger

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it,
you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could
call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
That doesn’t happen much, though.” 
― J.D. SalingerThe Catcher in the Rye

Image: Goodreads

J.D. Salinger
Image: Goodreads

Jerome David Salinger was an American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye, as well as his reclusive nature. His last original published work was in 1965; he gave his last interview in 1980.
. . . In 1951 Salinger released his novel The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers. The novel remains widely read and controversial, selling around 250,000 copies a year.

The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories(1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled “Hapworth 16, 1924”, appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.

. . . He made headlines around the globe in June 2009, after filing a lawsuit against another writer for copyright infringement resulting from that writer’s use of one of Salinger’s characters from The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger died of natural causes on January 27, 2010, at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire.

(Citing bio found on Goodreads)

Catcher in the Rye was required reading when I was in high school.
How about you? Did you HAVE to read it?
If not, have you read it or any other Salinger books?

Coming of Age in the South in 1963 | Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

Source: Goodreads

Source: Goodreads

by: Susan Crandall
Published: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books / Simon & Schuster
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult)
Source: NetGalley


From an award-winning author comes a wise and tender coming-of-age story about a nine-year-old girl who runs away from her Mississippi home in 1963, befriends a lonely woman suffering loss and abuse, and embarks on a life-changing roadtrip.

The summer of 1963 begins like any other for nine-year-old Starla Claudelle. Born to teenage parents in Mississippi, Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother, Mamie, whose worst fear is that Starla will turn out like her mother. Starla hasn’t seen her momma since she was three, but is convinced that her mother will keep her promise to take Starla and her daddy to Nashville, where her mother hopes to become a famous singer—and that one day her family will be whole and perfect.

When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla’s fear that Mamie will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, (read more here) . . .

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Not only did the cover capture my attention, the synopsis described a setting in the South in the 1960s, a time in history I cannot forget. No one else who lived through it can forget it either.

Starla Claudelle’s coming of age is different from any coming of age any one of us might have experienced. Running away from home to avoid her grandmother’s punishments, Starla finds herself traveling the road with a black woman, Eula, who has a white baby with her, having supposedly found the child on the church steps.

To make bad matters worse it’s 1963, and it’s a dangerous time to be a white child seen in the “custody” of a black woman. Starla receives an education better than any school could offer her. Her eyes witness the world of prejudice and race relations in a way the rest of us growing up in the South in the 1960s never saw.

Starla’s story is told with tenderness, grace and wisdom by Susan Crandall. Crandall has a creative hand in developing her characters. They are so real you feel as if you’ve known them a long time. The relationships she develops between her characters are palpable and filled with emotion. Crandall, an award-winning author, most likely has an award waiting for her after taking Starla Claudelle on the journey of a lifetime.

My Recommendation: 

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Southern fiction, coming of age stories, and the beauty of love growing out of respect, security and truth, no matter the color of your skin nor the blood you carry in your veins.

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Meet the Author:

Susan Crandall (Source: Goodreads)

Susan Crandall
(Source: Goodreads)

BACK ROADS was Susan Crandall’s first solo work, her first published work, and her first award winning novel, winning a RITA for Best First Book and two National Reader’s Choice Awards.

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay. She and her husband have two grown children. “They make me proud every day,” Susan glows. “My son, who has the heart of a poet, is also a writer. My daughter, who is both beautiful and brilliant, is about to take her first steps into the working world of science.”

For more on Susan Crandall, visit her website.

(Source for Bio: Goodreads)

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I received a copy of Whistling Past the Graveyard from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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NEXT REVIEW: We’ll take a look at Marion Elizabeth Witte’s book, Little Madhouse on the Prairie. Marion shares a story of strength and courage in her memoir. Hoping to see you here on Tuesday, September 17th.

The Last Navigator by J.G. McNease

by J.G. McNease
Published: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Source: Author

Synopsis: The ancient history of whales is rich with ancestral tales of superior wisdom, prehistoric tradition, and unending love. Through haunting songs and fluid dances, stories were told of the valor of warriors, the triumph of great chiefs, and the celestial songs of a mythical tribe of whales—the Navigators.

As a young female whale just coming of age, Lani finds herself daydreaming: not about the local boys, like her best friend, Prissy, but about the myth of the Navigators. When a new comer arrives at the islands and rumors spread about his connection with the Navigators, her imagination ran wild with possibilities. Against the will of her elders, Lani seeks out this new comer in an attempt to satisfy her inquisitive mind. What she finds is more than she ever bargained for. Breaking tradition, she leaves behind her duties as a female, her friends, and her family, and sets out on a quest for knowledge and truth. Along her journey, Lani discovers more than just the mystery of the Navigators. As lifelong family secrets are exposed, she makes unexpected—and unlikely—friends, experiences the pains of loss and faces the fear of death. Through her trials and tribulations, Lani discovers herself, finds her strength, and changes the history of whales forevermore.

A story of strength, self-discovery, love, and legacy, The Last Navigator resonates with anyone who has, or ever wanted to, know more and be more in life. It speaks to the hearts of young and old, inspiring us to be true to our heart’s desires and follow our dreams.

(Source for image and synopsis: J.G.McNease)

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My Thoughts:

The Last Navigator is a beautifully written debut novel for middle graders. J.G. McNease artfully uses the metaphorical experiences of a young female whale named Lani to bring to the page the experiences an adolescent girl might find herself facing in her own world.

Curious and somewhat independent, Lani struggles with the ancient myth of the Navigators and the fact that, as a female, she is not allowed to learn more about them or become one of them.

The arrival of an old and wearied whale to the area leads to the discovery that he in fact may be the last of the Navigators. Testing her own limits, Lani takes fate into her own hands by approaching the Navigator. What he sees in Lani will change the course of her life and the relationships with her mother and pod. But free-spirited and excited, Lani becomes the Navigator’s apprentice and finds herself on a journey she never expected. In so doing, Lani discovers not only herself but her strengths as she changes the course of female whales forever.

An exquisitely told tale of self-discovery, self-image, love, legacy and family, The Last Navigator is a book for those who have always wanted to stretch beyond their limits, whether self-imposed or imposed by others. Despite its classification of “middle grade fiction,” this is a book to also be enjoyed by adults and families alike. A not-to-be missed gem!

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Meet the author:

JGMcNeaseJ. G. McNease was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is a lover of Cajun food, Mardi Gras, and college football. In grade school, she always loved creative writing and excelled in English and Literature. Leaving that passion behind, she pursued a social science career in college. She was always told by her peers that she was a “good listener”, and thought the only logical route for her was to major in Psychology. She loved helping people and making the world a better place, so her next step was to get a graduate degree in Social Work. In the social science field, she had to put aside her creative writing and focus on the art of “technical writing” (which was a challenge in and of itself). During her academic career, she met her husband whose passion for literature and writing inspired her to return to her original love of writing. She initially wrote poetry and journaled quite a bit but never tried her hand at book writing. In the fall of 2012, she began writing her first book which turned into a twenty chapter novel by early 2013.

Her interest in the Pacific Islands began when she participated in a graduate school course in Hawaii. While she was there, she found the culture and history fascinating. She experienced the magic of the islands and was inspired to write her first novel, The Last Navigator. Since writing her first book, she has written several other short stories and the beginning of the companion book to The Last Navigator (which has a working title of “Through Ryan’s Eyes”).

(Source for bio and image: J.G. McNease)

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UP NEXT: A review and giveaway of Elaine Drennon Little’s A Summer Place. You’ll find this on the blog if you check back on Wednesday, August 21st.

Salvaged Love by Susan Blackmon

Salvaged Love

From Susan Blackmon’s web site

Salvaged Love is subtitled A Historic Novel of Key West 1828-1829.  The words “historic novel” caught my eye and I loaded this to my Kindle on a whim.  I had never heard of its author, Susan Blackmon, and quickly learned Salvaged Love was her debut novel.

Despite having traveled to Florida many times, I have never visited Key West or heard much about its history.  After reading Salvaged Love, I felt as if I had visited the island, albeit as it was in 1828-29, and knew I had learned a bit of its history.

The story centers around the coming of age of Abigail Bennington, 19-year old daughter of Richard Bennington.  Bennington acquired his fortunate in the shipping business. Her father surprises Abigail when he invites her to join him on one of his business trips.

As he explains, Bennington’s next trip is to the Caribbean and then on to Montgomery, Alabama, where his brother has a cotton plantation. Spurred on by desperate desire to excape her current situation, Abigail excitedly accepts her father’s invitation.  Their holiday will last six months.

A detour changes their plans when they become stranded on Key West, a newly formed island community inhabited mostly by men and sitting on treacherous coral reefs near the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico.

All is well until circumstances force Bennington to insist that Abigail must marry.  Soon, Abigail finds herself battling not only her own emotions but her husband’s reason for never returning her love and affection in any but a sexual way.  Will this young couple’s marriage survive?  Will happiness ever inhabit their home?  How will Abigail resolve this painful situation?

Susan Blackmon writes with a fluid style which quickly draws her reader into the book by descriptions of people, places and traditions among society.  The first sentence in the first chapter is Bennington’s question to Abigail, which sets the story in motion:  “Would you like to go with me to the Caribbean?”  Immediately I know that this will be an efficient piece of writing, not wasting the reader’s time attempting to figure out the book’s course.

Blackmon further has shown that she is correct in the use of historical research.  The Author’s Note at the beginning gives a brief overview of the history of the land known as Key West and some of historical figures who lived and/or visited Key West.  In addition, a note is included on why the author chose the time period, 1828-29.

As a debut novel, this one ranks high on the charts for me.  Blackmon has a natural gift for writing, often “painting” scenes, places, and people for her writers.  Although a few minor grammatical errors were noted (her editor or proofreader should have caught these), they do not impede the enjoyment of this novel.

Once I began Salvaged Love, I could not put it down; and I cannot wait until the second in the series comes out.

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