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Chasing Lilacs: A Novel Paperback – June 17, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 291 pages
  • Publisher: FaithWords; 1 edition (June 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446556556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556552
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Stewart's fiction debut is a classic coming-of-age story set in tiny Graham Camp, Tex., in 1958. Sammie Tucker, soon to be 13, has a mother with nerve problems, a desire for a typewriter since she wants to be a writer, and a sort-of boyfriend in Cly, an Elvis Presley–like teen just arrived from California with a stuffed bag of family issues. Subplots involving all the minor characters that revolve around the central constellation of Sammie and her family as Sammie's life is upended by a tragedy pack a bit too much complexity . Stewart writes about powerful and basic emotions with a restraint that suggests depth and authenticity; the relationship between Sammie and her mother Rita, the engine that drives the plot, is beautifully and delicately rendered. . Coming-of-age stories are a fiction staple, but well-done ones much rarer. This emotionally acute novel is one of the rare ones. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Stewart writes about powerful and basic emotions with a restraint that suggests depth and authenticity; the relationship between Sammie and her mother Rita, the engine that drives the plot, is beautifully and delicately rendered. Coming-of-age stories are a fiction staple, but well-done ones much rarer. This emotionally acute novel is one of the rare ones."—Publishers Weekly

"This first-person narrative contains resolute characters and vivid descriptions of a small Texas community in the 1950's. If her debut is any indication, Stewart has a promising future."—Romantic Times

"Prepare to laugh, cry, and pray as you inhale each poignant word of this stunning debut novel. Simply unforgettable!"—Patti Lacy, author of An Irishwoman's Tale, 2008 Forward Magazine Book of the Year Finalist, and What the Bayou Saw

"CHASING LILACS is the kind of coming of age story that sticks to you beyond the last page. Unforgettable characters, surprising plot twists, and a setting so southern you'll fall in love with Texas. Carla Stewart is a new talent to watch!"—Mary E. DeMuth, author of Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn

"Carla Stewart writes a tender story with such emotional impact, you will hope, fear, cry, and rejoice with her characters. Readers will find themselves cheering Sammie on through her ordeals as she seeks love and forgiveness."—Janelle Mowery, author of Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho

"Stewart's book CHASING LILACS was a delightful read . . . It'll warm your heart."—Jodi Thomas

More About the Author

Carla Stewart's writing reflects her passion for times gone by. Carla launched her writing career in 2002 when she received the coveted invitation to attend the Guidepost's Writers Workshop in Rye, New York. Since then, her articles have appeared in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Saddle Baron, and Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine.

Her debut novel, Chasing Lilacs, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, was an Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, the trophy winner for the 2011 Best Fiction Book for Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and received 2nd place honors in RWA's Inspirational Readers Choice Award for 2011. Carla loves to hear from readers and invites you to contact her and learn more about her writing at www.carlastewart.com.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The story was written very well, but it's very heartbreaking.
Christy
I just finished this last night, I'd read it in a day - couldn't put it down.
Camille Eide
Chasing Lilacs is an impressive debut novel for author Carla Stewart.
Dawn Kinzer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Julie Garmon on June 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
Talk about incredible writing--I was captured by the first paragraph of Carla Stewart's Chasing Lilacs. She brought back to my own childhood as I fell in love with and rooted for Sammie Tucker. Life throws Sammie some mighty big problems and she survives with humor, a sometimes difficult bond with her best friend Tuwana, and the ability to accept the truth--a magnificent lesson for us all.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jewel Sample, award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses on August 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
Chasing Lilacs is a fast paced 1950's coming of age story of an early adolescent girl named Sammie Tucker, who is growing up in a Texas Utility Service camp alive with human strengths, weaknesses and secrets. Sammie is faced with typical adolescent issues of self identity, friendship, religious beliefs, and love, which are complicated by her mother's "nerve" condition and sudden death. Sammie's childhood friend is sure an alienating aunt has come to take Sammie's mother's place. Sammie must choose whom to trust with her deepest fears as she walks through her own deep pain and heartfelt injustice, while uncovering bewildering community secrets.

What I really liked about Chasing Lilacs is when I was done reading about Sammie Tucker, I wished I could call the author up on the telephone and talk about the characters as if they were real people. Stewart skillfully entertained and engaged me with each character's personal pain, coping skills and sometimes unpredictable behavior in a community she brilliantly portrays with the belief that it takes a village to raise a child. Just when I thought I had figured out the next twist, Stewart surprised me with the unexpected, which kept me reading until the very end.

Similar to the writings of J. D. Salinger in the Catcher in the Rye, without the profanity, Stewart's themes and symbolism evoked many questions for future discussion. I found myself returning to read certain passages over and over, only to discover another theme or symbol to mull over. A welcomed benefit is the discussion questions at the end that encouraged me to come up with unlisted questions for further discussion.

Chasing Lilacs is a great read for the high school or college level classroom, as well as the young adult heart.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on June 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
In 1958 in Graham Camp, Texas, twelve years old Sammie Tucker's mother Rita suffers from nerves. Sammie hopes to become a writer, but needs a typewriter. She actually has a boyfriend, loose definition, in California teenage transplant Cly MacLemore; though her best friend Tuwana Johnson likes the cool cat more than she does.

Sammie's world collapses when her depressed mom commits suicide. As she nears her thirteenth birthday, Sammie wonders who she can depend on when people you love leave you by yourself. Family members and Cly try to be there for Sammie, but her mom was everything to the depressed grieving child.

This is a strong historical tale as several cast members struggle with personal issues. Sammie cannot move on beyond her mother's death as she wonders if her crazed late mom ever loved her. Cly has parental issues too as his frustrated dad dumps him on relatives hoping the teen straightens out from being a delinquent. Other cast members have problems that haunt them too. Chasing Lilacs is a poignant look at residents of a small Texas town during the Eisenhower era; as everyday people strain to overcome problems; ironically Sammie's mother did just that selfishly leaving behind trauma for her family especially her daughter.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annie Riley on June 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
The simplicity of life in the 1950s really wasn't as simple as it may seem to those of us who didn't live during that time. That generation didn't have many of the distractions we deal with now, but people were the same as they are now, each with his own secret that adds to the person that he is. And despite a person's secrets, God is still in control. This is what I learned from seeing Sammie's story unfold through her own eyes.

Written in a voice that spoke to my heart, this novel pulled me in straight away. I so enjoyed learning about what life was like in the 1950s, and the characters instantly became alive in my mind--so much so, in fact, that I wish I could meet them. I felt their smiles, their tears, their frustrations... They became friends that I will definitely revisit. (And I want a sequel so I can find out what happens next in their lives!)

Well done, Miss Carla! May God continue to bless your writing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carrie A. Turansky on August 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved this book from the first page. The characters were very unique, and the events of the story kept me guessing what would happen until the end. I will be looking forward to the next book from Carla Stewart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Phee Paradise on August 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
I wrote the following review following my usual pattern. I like to tell you my strong impressions of a book along with what I thought were its strengths and weaknesses. But what I really wanted to do with Chasing Lilacs is rave about how much I loved it and just urge you all to read it too.

Chasing Lilacs is promoted as a coming of age novel, but it is so much more than that. Sammie Tucker faces the typical problems of a twelve year old girl, brought on by the onset of adolescence. She's entering junior high, her body is changing, her best friend is changing, and a boy is interested in her. But her real problems supersede these issues. When her mother commits suicide, an aunt she doesn't know or like comes to live with her and her father.

Everyone says Aunt Vadine is out to marry Sammie's father and become her new mother. Sammie wonders if her mother loved her, but she does know she doesn't want her aunt around. While she grieves, Aunt Vadine strips away each piece of her mother Sammie has left.

Sammie tells her story in a first person narrative that draws her readers into her life. As I read Sammie's story, I remembered my adolescence and responded as if I were her best friend. I felt her pain and confusion; I became angry at the injustice she faced and I urged her to take control and do something about it.

Although the book is about a young teen, it's not adolescent lit. And although it reveals her inner life, there is enough happening in her small town to keep the story moving. One of the things I loved about the book is the setting. Sammie says that Graham Camp isn't even a dot on the map.
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