July 30, 2008

A Weems Family Portrait

When last we visited Gentle's Holler, the big Weems brood was waiting with hope for news of their father, who had been in a serious car accident. LOUISIANA'S SONG opens with Olivia and her sister Louise waiting along with their multiple siblings for their father's return.

They've put up a banner and made a special meal, but Daddy's not the same as he was. He doesn't remember any of them -- nobody, really, but Emmett, and worst of all, Daddy won't touch his banjo, not for a minute.

The story's narrator, Livy Two, is scared -- and that makes her furious. As moody as a clump of nettles, she fights with everyone, including her quieter younger sister, Louise, who, at eleven, is now almost six feet tall.

Without Daddy working, the finances of this family in 1963 Appalachia are on the verge of collapse. The Weems' don't accept charity, and Grandma's been helping out -- grudgingly, with plenty of complaints -- and it's a big black cloud over this once happy family. Livy is sure that Louise's artwork could save them, if only she'd lay aside her shyness and get out there and hustle -- like she does. Not only does she have a job with the local bookmobile, Livy frequently sends songs to guy in Nashville who someday might just make her fortune. Their older sister, Becksie, has a job at the local pancake house, and Emmett sometimes sends home a little money, but he's under stresses only Livy knows. Mama's knitting as fast as she can, but with Grandma's constant criticisms, the heart has gone out of the Weems family.

And then, Daddy disappears -- again.

It's another rocky episode in quaint and charming Gentle's Holler, but through it all, the Weems' retain the love and unity which makes them strong. Readers can't help but cross their fingers that good things will happen soon.

Buy this book from an independent bookstore near you!

1 comment:

Little Willow said...

I love this trilogy. I recommend it to all ages. It's just so sweet and honest.