Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: Cottonwood Whispers

Cottonwood Whispers. Jennifer Erin Valent. 2009. Tyndale. 352 pages.

I've heard the dead whisper. Every time I tell my best friend Gemma that, she frowns at me, says "There ain't no such thing as ghosts," and then tells me I'm crazy. But I'm not crazy. The dead really can whisper, only it isn't their ghosts that do it. It's the memory of them.

I loved Fireflies in December. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. It was such a great novel--set in the 1930s American South. It was beautiful; it was lyrical; it was oh-so-right. Cottonwood Whispers is the second in the series. It begins four years after Fireflies in December.

Jessilyn Lassiter and Gemma are still friends--as close as real sisters in a way--after all they've grown up together for the most part. But that friendship will be challenged in Cottonwood Whispers. Gemma, two years older, isn't always "understood" by the younger Jessilyn.

These two are growing apart. While Jessilyn still feels comfortable sharing her life with her best friend, telling her best friend her private thoughts, her dreams, her wishes for the future, Gemma isn't as forthcoming. In fact, she is becoming more reserved with the whole family as she busies herself with work. She's now working in service to the Hadley family. She's on friendly terms with their son, Joel, something that Jessilyn couldn't begin to understand. He is oh-so-repulsive to her. She would never--could never--trust him. But Gemma sees what she wants to see. And "advice" from Jessilyn isn't welcome when it comes to how she should live her life.

But after a tragic event in the community--the death of a young child--life in the community is turned upside down. And Gemma and Jessilyn (and Luke and Mr. Lassiter) find themselves in the middle of it once again. A man stands accused of a horrible crime. A man they believe to be innocent. A man one of them KNOWS to be innocent. How can a few people stand up for what is right, stand up for justice against the majority?

I loved this one. While I probably didn't love-love-love it in the same way as the first, I did love it. I loved spending time with Jessilyn and Luke. I loved spending time in this community. I loved the characterization, the setting, the writing. I think it's definitely one of the better novels I've read this year.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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