Ashes to Asheville, book review, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, Not on Fifth Street, Sarah Dooley, Writing

Not on Fifth Street — Review

Thought for the Day:
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
~ Harriet Tubman ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
If your main character doesn’t face impossible choices, you probably have a story problem. Janice Hardy at Fiction University is HERE to save the day. 
M. L. Keller at The Manuscript Shredder has a good post on Scene Planning HERE with a free worksheet. 
Since I’m working on (and have been for years!) a middle-grade adventure, I found Sean Easley’s post HERE on The Heart of of Middle-Grade Adventure particularly interesting. 

Last week, I offered a gently-read hardback copy of Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley to one of you. This week’s winner is Michael G-G, a middle-grade writer from Portland, Oregon. He is involved with two blogs you should know about: Middle Grade Mafioso HERE and Project Mayhem HERE. Congratulations, Michael! I will get your book out to you this week. 

Some years ago, I met a lovely woman at a Highlight’s workshop, and a couple years ago I reviewed her first book, Like a River.  Kathy Cannon Wiechman is that woman, and you can see that review HERE. I saw her at Highlight’s a couple years ago, and she read a few pages of a new book she was working on. I told her at the time I couldn’t wait to read it. Kathy’s new book, Not on Fifth Street, came out last month, and it was definitely worth the wait. While I liked her first book a lot, this one just knocked me out. 

Not on Fifth Street is the story of two brothers and how their lives change as their town is destroyed by the terrible flood of the Ohio River in 1933, and how their relationship is nearly destroyed by a misunderstanding. Pete and Gus are not only brothers, but best friends and two legs of the Three Muskateers, as they and their friend Richie call themselves. Gus is more cerebral and a bit of a dreamer. Pete is pretty down-to-earth and good with all things mechanical. 

When Gus invites a young lady to a holiday dinner, Pete, in an effort to make small talk, creates quite an imbroglio. Gus is ordered by his very Catholic parents to never see Venus again, mostly because she is a protestant — a fact uncovered by Pete’s questions. Needless to say, this drives a wedge between the boys that may be too great to overcome. 

When a warm January causes the Ohio River to start to rise and days and days of rain exacerbate the situation, the boys’ father asks Gus to go with him to fill sandbags to hold the river back. Gus feels honored by this choice and glories in it, while Pete is baffled about why he has been left behind. As the days go on, both boys come to understand this seemingly odd choice, and that knowledge lifts one and sends the other into despair. As the terrible weather continues, tremendous stresses are put on everyone, and the choices they make threaten fracturing the family further.
Kathy Cannon Weichman

The first half of the book is told from Pete’s point of view, and the second half is Gus’s story. It is really an effective way to tell this wonderful story, and Kathy makes the most of it. This is one of those books you will carry with you everywhere until you can finish it, the kind of book that will make you hope for long red lights so you can knock off a few more pages or make you look for a slow line at the grocery store so you can finish another chapter. It is the kind of book, were I twelve again, I would have under the covers with a flashlight reading until I couldn’t read another word. Kathy tells in the author’s note that her own father struggled through the flood and the house where they lived still stands. She talks about gathering stories from many people in her family who lived through the terrible flood, and all that research and the personal connection helps to make this book shine. Her writing is gorgeous and her storytelling impeccable. I can’t recommend this book enough. You may have noticed I am not giving this one away. Some books I just have to keep, and this is one of them. But next week, I promise I will have another giveaway, so come back. 

In the mean time, check out other wonderful MMGM blogs by going to Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE for the links which he is kind enough to post while Shannon Messenger is off selling her latest book.

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