Monday, August 17, 2015

The Way to Stay in Destiny- A Review and an Audio CD Giveaway!

The minute sixth-grader Theo Thomas gets off the bus and arrives in Destiny, Florida with his Uncle Raymond, I’m right there with him. Award winning author AugustaScattergood, uses great details to pull readers into the character and setting: Theo grabs his bags, baseball mitt and a tattered book, Everything You Want to Know About Baseball; the heat hits him like a slap in the face; diesel fumes whoosh around him; he encounters slithery gray stuff hanging from the trees; and no "old men in shorts and flip-flops" meet him and his uncle at the Marathon gas station. 

Theo’s shakes his head at the banner stretching across the street, Destiny, Florida: The Town Time Forgot and wonders, “Man, what am I doing here?”

Writers are encouraged to start a story at the moment in the character’s life when things change. True to that advice, Augusta starts this book with the fact that Theo’s life has taken a turn for the worse. As the story moves forward and Theo becomes acquainted with his new hometown, the reader finds out that he lived with his maternal grandparents on their Kentucky farm since his parents died in an accident when he was four. His Vietnam vet uncle had to come back from his happy life in Alaska to sell the farm, put his parents in a nursing home, and take care of him. Raymond resents it all.

At the same time that his uncle lays down the law about how life is going to be now that he's in charge, Theo is busy discovering that downstairs from his room in Miss Sister Grandersole's Rooming House and Dance Academy, there is a beautiful piano. He also makes the acquaintance of Anabel Johnson, who would rather be playing baseball than taking tap dance lessons. 

The piano is like a magnet to Theo and despite his uncle's displeasure, he can't keep his hands off of it. Miss Sister recognizes Theo's special talent to play music by ear, but all his uncle can say is, "No one but a fool wastes his time playing a piano."

Although this is Theo’s story of discovering a way to make a life without his grandparents in a new city, it is equally about Raymond coming to grips with his Vietnam nightmares and sorrows. I loved how slowly his backstory is revealed and how Theo discovers his uncle's hurts as an unappreciated Vietnam veteran. Their reconciliation is beautiful and authentic without being sappy or maudlin. 

I appreciated the way in which Augusta wove together the strands of the other character's stories. Besides Uncle Raymond's story, other sub-plots include Anabel's passion for baseball and her determination to uncover part of Destiny's history; and Miss Sister’s dancing dreams, which turned out different than she expected.

I also loved that Theo was as passionate about playing the piano as he was about practicing baseball. These two strands create a very unique character. 

There are too many great lines from this book for me to quote, but here are a few: 
  • "Music Makes Memories" the sign in Sister's practice room. The sign provides great subtext for the novel.
  • When Theo plays the piano he describes it as "music jumping out of his fingers."
  • Uncle Raymond: "I don't know nothing about raising kids. Especially ones that remind me of the bad times."
  • Theo: "I'll start acting like family when you do."
  • Uncle Raymond: "I hate everything that happened. I hate you having no one but me."
Why did Augusta Scattergood name the town Destiny? Why does Uncle Raymond want to leave Destiny? How does Theo figure out a way for them to stay and a way for them to be a family. You’ll have to read (or listen to) the book to find out.

Here Augusta reads a snippet of The Way to Stay in Destiny (Scholastic, 2015):

I am giving away a copy of the Audio CD expertly narrated by Michael Crouch. If you would like to win, please leave me a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by 6 PM August 20. If you become a new follower of my blog, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter, I'll give you additional chances to win; just let me know in your comment what you did.

This review originally was published on LitChat on July 28, 2015


Linda Phillips said...

Tweeted about great reviews of great books. Thanks Carol and Augusta! Hope to hear it/read it soon!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. Your name starts the giveaway list. You'd love this book!

Rosi said...

This is a lovely book. I enjoyed every word. Someone will certainly enjoy the audio, but please don't put me in the drawing. I've already read this one.

Carol Baldwin said...

Agreed, Rosi. You and I have similar tastes in books as well as in writing blogs, I think!

Linda A. said...

I've read "Glory Be" and loved it. I'm definitely excited about the possibility of winning an audio of "The Way to Stay in Destiny" by Augusta Scattergood. I listened to the overview and sample reading. I especially liked learning how Augusta created her setting. Sounds like a great story.

I'll post this to FB.

Carol Baldwin said...

You;re in twice, thanks LInda!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
I love the way you summarize the main points of the story by telling what you liked about the characterization or the background. You have a great way of pulling us into the books you talk about. Thanks for doing that.

Augusta Scattergood has a nifty way of making her characters unhappy with where they are and takes them to higher places and finding a reason to want to stay.

Celebrate you and all you do to give meaning to why we write.

Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Joan, for your comments on my review. I have entered your name in the giveaway--you would really like this book!

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