The Road to Bittersweet

The Road to Bittersweet

PUBLISHERS LUNCH BUZZ BOOK, Winter 2017/2018SIBA Trio 2018 SelectionSIBA OKRA PICK Winter 2018First Pick for SOUTHERN LADY Book ClubSet in the Carolinas in the 1940s, The Road to Bittersweet is a beautifully written, evocative account of a young woman reckoning not just with the unforgiving landscape, but with the rocky emotional terrain that leads from innocence to wisdom...

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Title:The Road to Bittersweet
Author:Donna Everhart
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Road to Bittersweet Reviews

  • Judy

    A riveting piece of southern historical fiction! I love stories of Appalachia and the south in general. This is a story of hardship and survival through the eyes of Wallis Stamper. This is somewhat of a coming of age story as well. I loved the author's writing style which puts you in the setting and nailed the language of Appalachia.

    Wallis Stamper and her family were caught in the flood of the Tuckasegee river near Cashiers, North Carolina in 1940 when a dam broke after torrential rains. The flo

    A riveting piece of southern historical fiction! I love stories of Appalachia and the south in general. This is a story of hardship and survival through the eyes of Wallis Stamper. This is somewhat of a coming of age story as well. I loved the author's writing style which puts you in the setting and nailed the language of Appalachia.

    Wallis Stamper and her family were caught in the flood of the Tuckasegee river near Cashiers, North Carolina in 1940 when a dam broke after torrential rains. The flooding was devastating and the Stamper family lost everything. Fourteen-year-old Wallis and her parents, her sixteen-year-old sister Laci (a mute savant, who can play any musical instrument), and her three-year-old brother Seph survive the flood but have to start over with nothing - nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, no change of clothes, and no money - nothing at all.

    Wallis is a very strong character who seems much older than her years. She has a lot of courage and determination and shoulders much responsibility.

    Thanks to Donna Everhart and Kensington Books through Netgalley for an advance copy of this novel.

  • Angela M

    You could call this a coming of age novel and I would agree, but it's not a typical coming of age story. You could say that the ending is a little too pat, maybe even a little too predictable and I could agree with that . For me though, the important thing about this story is that I found it to be an excellent work of historical fiction.

    It's 1940 in North Carolina, and the dam of the Tuckasegee river has broken with the torrential rains. Fourteen year old Wallis Ann and her family, her mother a

    You could call this a coming of age novel and I would agree, but it's not a typical coming of age story. You could say that the ending is a little too pat, maybe even a little too predictable and I could agree with that . For me though, the important thing about this story is that I found it to be an excellent work of historical fiction.

    It's 1940 in North Carolina, and the dam of the Tuckasegee river has broken with the torrential rains. Fourteen year old Wallis Ann and her family, her mother and father, her three year old brother Seph and her older sister, Laci, a savant who doesn't speak but plays music from memory and accompanies the family when they perform as a singing group on occasion, make a harrowing escape from the flood. The descriptions of the devastation are fantastic and so realistic as evidenced by the photographs I found online (link is below). I could see Wallis Ann hanging on to a tree limb , desperate to survive, thinking about the rest of her family who were torn from the truck as they attempted to escape. Wallis Ann is smart and tough and manages to stay alive , find her way back to what was left of their home and desperately waits for her family's return. Such a burden on this young girl as she helps her father try to rebuild their home, try to find food to survive, and watch over Laci. Such a heavy burden on a fourteen year old girl, the hard labor, the guilt she carries over her little brother Seph.

    Rebuilding becomes impossible with no tools, and little in the way of food, so they leave and end up as a singing group in a carnival and things get complicated for Wallis Ann and her family and they return home. I don't want to say more about the plot. This is a story of a close family and their hardship and hope as they try to survive the tragic circumstances of loss from the devastation of the flood . Of course I had to do searching to find out more about these floods in NC in 1940 and there was truly devastation and loss as this story reflects . 4 stars and recommended.

    Some photos of the devastation caused by this flood:

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Kensington Books through Edelweiss and NetGalley.

  • Cheri

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    A picture of a casually sweet, demurely seated young girl in a crisp, white sundress adorns the cover, her legs crossed at her ankles, her feet bare and almost tucked into the grass beneath, delicately holding something between her hands which seems to be almost imperceptibly, the bare old wood porch lending an air of hardship to their humble home. Off to the side are the words:

    That certainly holds true in this story.

    The Year is 1940; the

    !! NOW AVAILABLE !!

    A picture of a casually sweet, demurely seated young girl in a crisp, white sundress adorns the cover, her legs crossed at her ankles, her feet bare and almost tucked into the grass beneath, delicately holding something between her hands which seems to be almost imperceptibly, the bare old wood porch lending an air of hardship to their humble home. Off to the side are the words:

    That certainly holds true in this story.

    The Year is 1940; the Stamper family lives in Stampers Creek, their creek off the Tuckasegee River near Cashiers, North Carolina. Wallis Ann is fourteen, two years younger than her sister Laci, who does not speak, has never spoken, but has the ability to play music after hearing it only once or twice, on a variety of instruments: piano, fiddle, banjo, Mountain dulcimer.

    Seph is the youngest at three. As a family, they sometimes perform locally; the girls wearing their feed sack dresses, and sometimes receive tokens of thanks in exchange for the gift they bring to others. A simple life, a life that suits them fairly well.

    And then the rains came.

    Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes

    Hold back the river, so I

    Can stop for a minute and see where you hide

    Hold back the river, hold back.

    --- Songwriters: Iain Archer / James Bay

    They grab what they can, trying to get away in their truck while they still are able. The water keeps rising, and the driving gets more treacherous. Eventually, the waters take control of the car, pushing it along, as Wallis Ann’s family struggle to get to the highest point of the truck, Wallis Ann is swept away, eventually grabbing onto a sturdy enough tree branch, and finds a place to hold onto something solid, unmoving. She holds on long enough to see the waters subside, climbing down to the mucky surface.

    Tried to keep you close to me

    But life got in between

    Tried to square not being there

    But think that I should have been.

    --- Songwriters: Iain Archer / James Bay

    Finding her way back home through sheer determination, a need to reunite with her family, and the kindness of strangers, she heads back to what remains of their home, their barn, and tries to work on, rebuild, what she can.

    Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander

    Let us hold each other

    Lonely water, lonely water, won't you let us wander

    Let us hold each other

    --- Songwriters: Iain Archer / James Bay

    Rebuilding begins to seem like an insurmountable task, even after time passes and her mother and father and sister Laci return, there are no tools, not enough food, and winter is coming on. And so, once more, they are forced to leave their home, this time in the hopes of finding salvation somewhere.

    There is an aspect of this that will be seen primarily as a coming of age story, but in truth Wallis Ann seems as though she was born an adult, and has certainly seems to have carried the weight of an adult in her household. There are some momentary glimpses of her more innocent, youthful side especially when it comes to more adult ways outside her ken, but there is the larger side of her that seems to take on responsibility for things beyond her control.

    I read, and really enjoyed, Donna Everhart’s

    so I was really looking forward to reading her soon-to-be released

    and I was not disappointed. They are very different stories, but this has a strong, young heroine that will surely grab hold of your heart and have you rooting for her to not only find safety, but acceptance and love.

    Pub Date: 26 December 2017

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by Kensington Books

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister

    I enjoyed my time spent with Wallis Ann Stamper and her family. Set in the 1940s in both North and South Carolina, there was a flood in the Stampers’ small mountain community at the start of the book that left me riveted. Wallis Ann went on quite an adventure finding her way home.

    Wallis Ann’s parents reminded me a bit of the Ingalls parents from Little House, through their patience and kindness towards their children. The family has lost every

    I enjoyed my time spent with Wallis Ann Stamper and her family. Set in the 1940s in both North and South Carolina, there was a flood in the Stampers’ small mountain community at the start of the book that left me riveted. Wallis Ann went on quite an adventure finding her way home.

    Wallis Ann’s parents reminded me a bit of the Ingalls parents from Little House, through their patience and kindness towards their children. The family has lost everything from the flood, and their experiences, their hunger, their trials and tribulations, are all authentically depicted. This close-knit family truly tries it all to survive and to thrive.

    I found Wallis Ann’s coming of age to be memorable and heartwarming. This book is highly recommended to fans of southern historical fiction.

    Thank you to Donna Everhart, Kensington Books, and Netgalley, for the opportunity to read and review this special book. The Road to Bittersweet will be published on December 26, 2017.

  • RoseMary Achey

    Donna Everharts new novel set in the mountains of Western North Carolina was pulled directly from the history pages. The Great Flood of 1940 roared through Jackson County and in

    we learn the fate of a proud and self-sufficient Appalachian family when their meager possessions are lost in the flood.

    The novel's pr

    Donna Everharts new novel set in the mountains of Western North Carolina was pulled directly from the history pages. The Great Flood of 1940 roared through Jackson County and in

    we learn the fate of a proud and self-sufficient Appalachian family when their meager possessions are lost in the flood.

    The novel's protagonist, Wallis Ann Stamper, comes of age during the aftermath of the flood. Writing in the voice of Appalchian people takes a skilled writer. Ron Rash and David Joy are authors I believe have mastered the voice.

    While I enjoyed the story, I feel Everhart needs to continue working on her mastery of the the Appalchian narrative. It did not ring as true as other novels set in comparable locals and time periods.

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