Reviewer: Amy Lignor
Title: Chasing Lilacs
Author: Carla Stewart
Publisher: Faith Words
Release Date: June 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Inspirational Fiction
Year/Setting: 1958/Graham Camp, Texas
Overall Rating: 3.0
Sexual Content Rating: None/Subtle
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: None
Violent Content Rating: Minimal/Moderate
Carla's Website/Blog: www.carlastewart.com
I am going to begin this review with the description of Graham Camp, Texas. This is a beautiful small town where the sky is so blue it hurts your eyes, and the wind whistling through the prairie grass makes it look like a silk carpet covers the earth. This, my friends, could not be more true. I have spent time in the Texas Panhandle, and the utter silence of that place; the stillness that only God could create - that is only interrupted by the sounds of thunder when it explodes over the area, is almost too peaceful for any of us to imagine. This is the wonderful setting for this good yet, slightly slow, debut novel.
In Graham Camp we meet up with a young girl by the name of Sammie Tucker. Sammie lives with her hardworking father, and a mother who has so many problems that it is impossible to count them all. You see, Sammie's mother had a severe loss at one point in her life, and she hasn't fully recovered from the pain. Not only that, she seems to blame Sammie for what happened so long ago. Mom is hooked on prescription drugs, and has begun to try, with every ounce of strength she has left, to commit suicide. At the very beginning of this novel, Mom has almost succeeded. When she is raced to a hospital and then placed in a psychiatric facility to get her some help, Sammie hears of the "shock treatments" that her mother is having to go through. Sammie tries with all her might to live a normal childhood. She has a best friend named Tuwana who she likes to spend time with; and, a new young man has entered the small town named Cly MacLemore, who Tuwana has become starry-eyed over.
Cly is the ultimate rebel. When she first meets him he's blowing smoke rings into the air as Elvis plays on the radio behind him. He was brought to the small town by his uncle, and Cly must stay in Graham Camp until he shows gratitude and changes his attitude. Sammie sees no problem with the boy. After spending time with him she can see that Cly is basically sick of everyone looking at him like he is the ultimate "bad boy." He's not so bad. In fact, he is mostly just misunderstood and wants to change his image so that people can see the big heart he has underneath all the fake bravado he puts forth.
The title of this novel comes from the fact that Sammie's mother, when she returns from the hospital, likes to wander off and take lilac bubble baths when she's stressed out. That wonderful aroma fills the house and reminds Sammie of her mom for the rest of her life. What this family has to go through between the suicide attempts; mom's sister, Vadine, who shows up and tries to "draw" Sammie's father into a horrible relationship; and, the close friendship that grows between Sammie and Cly, brings this novel through the ups and downs of a truly - more often than not - tragic childhood.
For readers who are interested in books of deep faith, recovery, and resurrection, this is the book for you. Although the story is well thought out, unfortunately, it is simply not a subject that I can stomach.
Until next time, Amy
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