I've been on the "other side of the pond" for the last two weeks and just returned home. I look forward to sharing a few of my European adventures, particularly as they relate to my next WIP, Nightmare in Nuremberg. But while I get over jet lag, I have a review for you by a new young guest blogger, Mara Scudder.
Light Comes to Shadow Mountain surprised me with the skill and warmth of the tale it told. Completely immersed in the world of Cora Mae Tipton, the author, Toni Buzzeo, let her voice shine throughout the work. With distinct figures of speech and an optimistic worldview, Cora shares the story of her struggle to help bring electricity to her mountain home in southeastern Kentucky.
Cora knows the only way for her to fulfill her dream of becoming a successful journalist is to make it through high school, but she can’t imagine passing the exams without electric light at night to study by. Her days are filled with the tedious chores that are necessary on the mountain -- chores that Cora could imagine would be a breeze with the electrical appliances she’s seen in magazines from the city -- and she simply doesn’t have time for schoolwork during the day. Unfortunately for her, electricity is relatively expensive for a small town in the Depression, and far worse, her mother views electricity as the end of their way of life.
Cora and her mother repeatedly clash, sometimes over electricity and many times over other issues, some of which were out of Cora’s control. Cora finds it challenging not to make electricity a personal matter to her. She knows a good journalist should be objective, examining both sides of an issue before forming an opinion, but she can’t help but feel frustrated that her mother is so stubborn. Over the course of the novel, Cora attempts to not only understand her mother’s side of things but also recognize and work to change her own flaws. She learns how to forgive those who have hurt her and works to stay positive despite frustrating circumstances. Cora’s passion for her dreams does not hinder her from recognizing her own faults and putting her family first. She risks her life to save her newborn sister and gives up the money that she hoped would bring light to Shadow Mountain to help pay hospital bills.
As a character, Cora works to shed light not only on her mountain home, but also on the issues of the time, the challenges she faces, and most of all the opposition to her cause. Her desire to understand even those who are firmly opposed to her only chance at fulfilling her dreams is one of the biggest things that makes her a memorable protagonist. She seeks to put aside her feelings and step into the shoes of someone else, making her an unusual, but especially perceptive character. Whether it is her mother, her cousin, or the cranky neighbor down the road, Cora always seeks to understand different perspectives. It is this understanding that finally enables her to reconcile with her mother and resolve the tension in their family.
Cora’s vibrant personality, her understanding of her faults, and her willingness to sacrifice anything for her family (even if certain members of that family make such sacrifices especially difficult) make this novel stand out from the many other middle-grade works on the shelf. Light Comes to Shadow Mountain chronicles a little-told story in an unusual setting, but this uniqueness only adds to its beauty and originality. Cora’s story sheds light not only on a little-known setting with long-forgotten perspectives, but also on crucial themes such as love, forgiveness, and family that make this a heartwarming read.
Great review! What an interest subject--it sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Marci!
Sounds like a great book. I'll add it to my TBR. :)
Mara, this sounds like a really excellent read! The layer of electricity and how controversial it was in a small town like this makes for a really interesting addition to conflict between a young person and a parent. I really appreciate your thoughtful review—and Carol, thanks for hosting!
Thanks, Max for leaving a comment for Mara.
THANKS, Mara and Carol!
Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Sue.
Mara, you have presented an excellent critique of this story. Cora sounds like a wonderful character. Thanks to Carol for featuring your review on this week's MMGM.
Thanks for cheering, Mara on, Greg. I think I've found another great teen reviewer!
Great review. Very thorough and well-written. It isn't often characters recognize their own flaws and go about rectifying them. Thanks for the post.
Great review, Mara, and what an interesting story and great protagonist! Carol, where do you get all these talented young reviewers from??? :) Welcome back from your trip! Looking forward to hearing all about your new story, great title!
Thanks, Valinora. I'm planning a post-trip blog as related to my WIP, but I'm too busy planning it that I haven't taken time to write it! I'm always on the look out for kid readers/writers. I found Elliott through a FB request in a homeschool group. Mara and her cousin go to my granddaughter's school. Thanks for your comment!
Mara, what a great review! Blessings on your future endeavors!
Thank you, Jo Lynn. I know Mara is going to be encouraged by all these comments!
I haven't heard of this book before, but I very much enjoyed this review. Sounds like a very interesting book! Thanks for sharing, Mara. :)
Thank you for commenting, DMS! Mara and I appreciate you taking the time to do so.
Post a Comment