This is an exciting week, because I get to talk about two new releases by independent authors who I support wholeheartedly! Then, I’ll have a just for fun post on Wednesday (possibly a tag?), my review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on Friday, and I attend orientation for graduate school on Saturday. That’s a lot for my literary heart to be happy about!
Of the three books I’m featuring this week, today’s is the one that I am happiest about. The book I will talk about tomorrow I haven’t read yet, and as for The Ballad…well, it was a mixed bag for me, and you’ll see my verdict then. For today, I am thrilled to review A Strand of Hope, the first book in the new Librarians of Willow Hollow series.
About the book
Title: A Strand of Hope (Librarians of Willow Hollow #1)
Author: Amanda Tero
Genre: YA Historical Fiction (Great Depression, Kentucky)
Synopsis: Lena Davis is the daughter her mom never wanted.
But she survived. Through stories. Because books didn’t judge. Books weren’t angry she was alive. Books never expected her to be anything but who she was.
As she grows up, her beloved library becomes her true home. So when the library is designated part of President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project, Lena is determined to get the job of bringing books to highlanders, believing she’ll finally be free of her mom forever. But earning the trust of highlanders is harder than she imagined, and her passion for books might not be enough to free her from her chains.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
EDITED 7/28/2020 TO ADD: Now that A Strand of Hope has officially released, here’s the link to a post on the author’s blog with a giveaway!
There are so many things to love about A Strand of Hope! Obviously, I’m already a bigger supporter of libraries, but Lena’s enthusiasm for libraries and reading is contagious and outshines even my own. Her dedication, hard work, and general attitude are admirable and enjoyable to read about.
Her mother, on the other hand, is not at all pleasant to read about. She’s definitely a “love to hate” character. She doesn’t even deserve more than a few lines here; she’s just awful and I am glad that she is absent for most of the story. Thankfully, there are other characters who care about Lena and do what they can to support her and improve her life. Her pastor, employer, and a few of the families she meets on her library route all end up helping Lena in one way or another.
The historical aspect of this novella is wonderful, too. I recently read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (you can read my review here), and this is a perfect follow-up! Both feature the pack horse librarians of Depression-era Kentucky, with the difficulties of the time on full display. A Strand of Hope does so more delicately though, and is a much easier read for those who prefer “clean” fiction. Reading this made my heart ache first for Lena, and then for all of the real-life people who lived in this way, in the country I live in and thought I knew the history of, but apparently I still really don’t.
While major portions of this book are far from happy, the ending is, and I am very appreciative of the epilogue! It is good to know how Lena’s life turns out after the events of this story – maybe we will get to see a few glimpses of this is the rest of the series? At this point I can only hope, although I intend to start reading the second book in the series, I Love to Tell the Story, soon.
Like everything else I have read by this author, the pacing is good, the characters are well-developed, the story is believable, and generally the book is well written. The faith element of this book is also well-written. I enjoyed seeing Lena’s faith mature throughout the story.My only criticism is that the description is a bit vague at times, especially about The Building which houses the library. I would like to know a lot more about this building, and the town itself!
I highly recommend you read this book! Just be aware that there are some difficult topics in it, including strained family relationships, mentions of drinking, and a level of harsh judging which some might want to avoid if they prioritize reading as an escape from real life. Also, this book features a lovely horse whom I would love to meet. Five bright stars.
A Strand of Hope releases tomorrow, and I am so excited for more people to read this story! It is wonderfully done and a solid addition to the reading list of anyone who enjoys historical fiction, clean young adult fiction, or Christian fiction.
What’s a book you have read and enjoyed about a library or libraries generally?
Until the next chapter,