Now with a review!
I cannot wait for this to come out in real-time. I need to read the end product before I give any stars, though, because I need to see how it really looks on paper before I give my final thoughts. I can tell you, though, it will be 4 or 5 stars.
At this point, I can recommend this story to those who love Scout from [b:To Kill a Mockingbird|2657|To Kill a Mockingbird|Harper Lee|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1361975680s/2657.jpg|3275794], readers who liked the ambience of [b:The Secret Life of Bees|37435|The Secret Life of Bees|Sue Monk Kidd|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333819031s/37435.jpg|3275013] even though this is nothing like that, really, except for the folks with problems who live in the south and love the land around them, and, as with [b:The Witch of Little Italy|13548909|The Witch of Little Italy|Suzanne Palmieri|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337638217s/13548909.jpg|19114523], fans of [a:Sarah Addison Allen|566874|Sarah Addison Allen|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1372537232p2/566874.jpg] and [a:Adriana Trigiani|9219|Adriana Trigiani|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1332376218p2/9219.jpg].
First, I feel I would be remiss if I did not provide a disclaimer.
Here is my disclaimer: http://006point7ekgo.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/promises-tears-and-magic/
Now onto the good stuff!
Honestly, this entire book seemed new and different in print form. My brain is so weird sometimes. However, the new difference let me read this all over again with fresh eyeballs, which was pretty fun for me. I stayed up way too late several nights to get in just one more chapter. Again, silly, since I totally knew how this ended, but that's how much I enjoyed the story.
Part of my love for this book comes from that protective gene so many of us have. I love this book like I love kids who have been part of my life for years. They're not my kids but they're partly my responsibility because I know them and love them. That's what I feel toward this book - it's not mine, but I'm still protective of it. Isn't that the definition of "fangirl"?
At any rate, this by no means makes the book meritless. Suzanne is a master of the moment - she can describe a place in time, complete with surroundings, characters, emotions, and turn it into a shining diamond, something you want to look at then re-examine so you can see and re-see each faceted, framed instant. She writes some seriously beautiful words and creates some heartbreakingly delightful characters.
I adore Byrd. I have loved her since the first time I read her. She's just a little mess of wonderful and snottiness, of sweet, spicy, and sour. She's a handful, a brat, a wild little thing, and she's made of all the best childhood memories. She is, hands-down, my favorite part of this entire story.
My favorite chapter? Chapter 21. For me, this chapter with the ghosts and the letter from Stella, it's like a twist tie. It's not really part of the story until that moment and then it winds around and holds everything together. I want you to know that I HATED Stella until this chapter happened. Afterward, well, I'll accept those Amores now that there's one I like.
There's a strong underlying mother/daughter theme woven throughout. This speaks to me because, like many daughters, I have had issues with my mother and I understand the longing to be a beloved child. Part of this theme shows up in an aunt/niece relationship which is also meaningful to me because of my strong relationships with both of my nieces. To me, this was all bittersweet and delicious.
So with all this gushing, you'd think there's be five stars up there, right?
Well, not quite.
I had two problems with this book, one that Suzanne is probably tired of hearing about and the other that re-manifested while reading this published, printed, real-life version.
I have always
had a problem with Naomi. I know why she's there, her story is important in that it gives another side to what we wouldn't get from Wyn's or Byrd's perspectives. However, she never seemed to fit in. Her parts kick me out of the narrative and I wind up feeling I'm reading something entirely different.
Funny aside: After this went to publication, Suzanne told me (this is not verbatim), "Oh, I figured out how to fix the problem with Naomi" and I was all, "HOW? She's IMPOSSIBLE!" and she told me and I said, "Riiiight. Yes! That is exactly what would have fixed the whole thing." Unfortunately, it was too late and Naomi got to stay and she continues to irk me.
Second: The Mystery.
Specifically the Carter/Paddy part of The Mystery. I followed everything else except for how those two play into it; they create more suspicion in my mind, more questions, more "Wait, no...that doesn't make sense because..." Chapter 29 is my least favorite; to me, it seemed like a weak link, a glossed-over explanation but one that isn't satisfying. I mean, I know what it means and where it's going but it didn't convince me, didn't give me the feeling of "Yes. This is exactly right and everything just fell into place. Mystery solved!"
I don't have a lot of scribbles in my Book of Manuscript Notes during that part so I don't know what I felt the first few times I looked at it but Carter/Paddy felt weak and wobbly this time around.
Two minor things but they're enough to keep that fifth star at bay.
These are issues that may not bother other readers. If none of that sounds troublesome to you and you love light mysteries cushioned in tales of families, ghosts, addiction, unhealthy relationships, coming home, finding oneself, and some soft romance (not soft-core "romance", just soft romance) I strongly suggest reading this, perhaps during summer vacation while lying in a hammock under some trees.