Author: Alana White
Publisher: Open Road Distribution
Type of book: Tennessee Smoky Mountains, 1949-1950, community, friendship, classicism, literature, Gone with the Wind, families, horses, strangers, welcoming, outsiders, insiders, city, country
Year it was published: 1990
It’s 1949 in Tennessee Smoky Mountain country, and everything in pre-teen Salina’s life seems suddenly different. Her sister is engaged, her brother is absorbed in caring for his sickly foal, and salina feels she has nothing in common anymore with her best friend. This novel for young people captures the insular spirit of the mountain people, the breathtaking country itself, and a girl’s struggle to accept the inevitability of change.
Main characters include Salina, a twelve year old red-headed precocious reader who believes in a happily ever after for Scarlett and Rhett. She has an older sister, Mary, an older brother and a younger brother. For me personally she seemed to be tomboyish and is really into literature and books, having finished Gone with the Wind and The Count of Monte Cristo (That book I tackled in my 20s...) She is struggling with change, accepting it and keeping it the same, and along the way she learns of valuable lessons. Scooter is the new girl who is blonde haired and is far more cynical than Salina but at the same time she is more understanding and is dependable and she also loves reading as much as Salina does. She is seen as an outsider and lives with her widowed mother and three sisters as well as a grandmother. She is also poor. There are other characters such as Salina's and Scooter's families and friends, but while they do play a big role in the book, they aren't main characters.
Its okay to change and to be different
The story is in third person narrative from Salina's point of view and it doesn't start in the middle but instead is linear. While I did see Salina going through growth, I don't think I quite saw what prompted her to change and to become a different person. Most of the focus is on the daily life of community, and the importance of being there for one another is heavily emphasized, which is missing in this day and age. The lessons one can learn about friendship, community, importance of similarities over differences are both timeless yet very modern and something one should learn. I honestly wish I could have read the story as a child instead of reading it for the first time now. What I also enjoyed as well is the human approach towards changes, and how both pros and cons of cities and countryside are subtly highlighted, neither better nor worse, but both should be in a symbiotic relationship.
About the AuthorOpinion:
The book was published in 1990, four year before I came to America, and five years after my birth. I am surprised that up until now, I hadn't heard of the story, and I don't recall coming across it in school. The story did bring a lot of smiles to me because at around Salina's age, I also challenged myself to read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, but the difference is that up until in my 20s or so, I did not appreciate how beautiful Gone with the Wind is. At her age, I vaguely recall that I sort of liked it, but at the same time not really. The story is best described as slow, and atmospheric as sort of having a feeling of Little House series feeling, except that this story is very interwoven with community and is about changes, both good and bad and how its okay to like some but not all, which I've appreciated. (A bit annoying when characters forget their own roots.) Although some moments are predictable in a story, I did appreciate that the focus is mostly on how the characters lived and handled their lives within the community.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)