Friday, February 1, 2013

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl & A Giveaway!

The only thing that I didn't like about Shannon Hitchcock's debut novel, The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, (Namelos, 2012) is that it ended. The fact that I wanted to know what happened to Jessie, proves that this well-written historical fiction is a must-read for young adult girls, as well as their mothers and grandmothers. 

The time is 1922 and the place is rural North Carolina; a time when young girls are fortunate to graduate from eighth grade and not many leave home to pursue higher education. It's also a time when young men like Jessie's beau, J.T., leave sharecropping on a tobacco farm to earn more money at the Reynolds factory in Winston. 

When Jessie's sister Carrie is diagnosed with tuberculosis soon after giving birth to her first son, Ky, Jessie has no choice but to drop out of school to take care of the house, Carrie, and Ky. Carrie dies and Jessie is caught between her desire to help her family and her dream of becoming a teacher. Throw her powerful feelings for J.T. into the mix, and you have a wonderful stew of conflict portrayed in this scene when J.T. announces his decision to leave:

"You're leaving me?" I ask.

"It's not like that," J.T. Says. "I'm goin' so I can save money. So that I can take care of you someday."

I stomp my foot in the dirt. "Let me tell you how it really is. You're going because you don't want to be a sharecropper like your pa. I didn't enter into your decision. And don't pretend like I did."

J.T. nods. "You're partly right. I don't want to be a sharecropper, but I still want to marry you someday. I shouldn't have to choose."

I give him a sad smile. "You already did. I can't leave here. I promised Carrie I'd take care of her son."


J.T.'s hands ball into fists. "Why do you have to make me feel so guilty? If you had the chance to leave for teacher's college, you'd take it."

Ky whispers and I jostle him on my hip. "Would I? I just don't know anymore. The feelings I have for you tie my heart in knots." (p. 76-77)

The Ballad of Jesse Pearl is a coming of age book similar to another excellent young adult novel, A Northern LightI appreciate how both writers portray realistic characters and conflicts for the time period in which the girls lived.

Poetic images fill the pages of a story taken from Shannon's own family history. 
Anna and Crawley Hennings,
Shannon Hitchcock's great aunts.
Crawley's life, sickness and death, was the model for Jessie Pearl.
Watch this book trailer, created by Wendy Hostetter Davis, and you will see a glimpse of this beautiful story: 

I am giving away a copy of the ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) along with a copy of the annotated discussion and activity guide. You don't have to be a teacher to win, but you might consider passing along Jessie Pearl to your favorite classroom after you read it. The giveaway will end on Monday morning, February 4th.  To enter please:

  • Share this contest on your social media of your choice and leave me a comment with your email address. 


  • Sign up to follow my blog and then leave me a comment with your email address. 


Gail Hurlburt said...

If I win I will pass it along to a Randleman area school. Thanks for sharing THE BALLAD OF JESSIE PEARL.

Gail Hurlburt

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

Thanks, Carol, for another great historical novel review, and how neat that this one is very close to home.

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

Thanks, Carol, for another great historical novel review, and how neat that this one is very close to home.

Rosi said...

Nice review. I loved both The Ballad of Jessie Pearl and A Northern Light. Yes, they do have similarities. If you draw my name, please pass the book along to a teacher in your neighborhood since I've already read it. I do subscribe to your blog.

Jean said...

I'm heading for twitter to share, Carol.

This book sounds really interesting to me - maybe it will help me work out the kinks in MY coming of age story, huh?


Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Jean and Rosi. Very generous of you, Rosi to think about donating a copy to a local school here. You and I seem to have the same taste in books! And yes Jean, it would help you!!

Linda A. said...

Hi Carol,
Great review of this historical fiction novel. You know how to put out a quality product and get reader's attention. Go Carol! Good luck to all who enter the contest. I am just here to send congratulations to the winner.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda, for your voice of confidence!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

I love this book! Glad you did also. And I love having another local story to recommend to NC teachers and librarians. A disease story even!

Enjoyed your take on it, Carol. If I win, I'll pass my copy on to Kayla G. But I'm also going to encourage her to enter.

LifeLongLearner said...

Please enter our elementary library students in this contest. We love historical fiction.

LifeLongLearner said...

Please enter our elementary library students in your contest. We love historical fiction genre reading options.

Jeannie Smith said...

Sounds like a great read. I would love to win/read this book and share it with my granddaughter who is an avid reader. I have plenty of teacher friends to share it with also. Great trailer Wendy Hostetter Davis. Count me in please.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Margo, Jeannie, & JOyce. I entered all of your names. Will draw a winner tomorrow AM!

Unknown said...

Sounds like an inspiring read.

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