The Book of Polly
by Kate Hepinstall
Review by Kathy
This book is a delight, a laugh out loud, tear up a little, hold your breath in suspense delight!
The story is told from the point of view of Willow, the child born to a 58 year old steel magnolia who discovers she is with child within days of her husband’s death. All children fear the death of a parent, but Willow’s fear of being left an orphan is not irrational, considering the circumstances. While she has two much older siblings, they are long out of the house and Willow is like an only child. Polly is a strong, proud, snarky woman who feuds with her neighbors and her daughter’s teachers while scaring her daughter’s friends. Yet she lovingly attends to her garden and it is one of the few places she and Willow can share a space without conflict. This is a woman who loves deeply but cannot express it.
You will enjoy the special relationship between Willow and Polly as Willow tries to discover more about Polly’s past as a way to hold on to her. Willow’s efforts to discover her mother’s secrets move the plot. The author’s use of language, character descriptions and sharp insights expressed by Willow, are a joy to read. That is not to say this is a fluff piece. Topics include alcoholism, family estrangement, domestic violence, near sexual assault, cancer and pain of lost loves.
My favorite aspect of this novel is that there is NOT a tear jerking ending, but a hopeful conclusion where mother and daughter accept growing up and growing old.
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About the reviewer: Kathy is a retired teacher with a background in advocating for children and public education. One of her greatest joys is sitting on her balcony with a good book and an iced tea!
This review is part of Book Your Summer, our 2017 Adult Summer Reading program.