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The Sheep Walker's Daughter Paperback – December 3, 2013
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
The Center for Basque Studies (University of Nevada, Reno) is extremely proud to congratulate all of the participants in the first Basque Literary Writing Contest. Honorable mention to Sydney Avey, for her tremendous novel "The Sheep Walker's Daughter." --Center for Basque Studies press release
About the Author
Sydney Avey lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California, and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and a lifetime of experience writing news for non-profits and corporations. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine). She has studied at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. Sydney blogs at sydneyavey.com on topics related to relationships, legacy, faith, and the writing life.
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Top Customer Reviews
The story begins with a mother’s death, a widowed daughter numbed by the haunting memory of her husband’s death, and a granddaughter’s smoldering anger at being excluded from those last precious moments with her “abuelita”.
We quickly learn that the Moraga family tree is shadowed in a web of secrets and partially buried under the debris of neglect and ignorance. Avey deftly moves us between the personas of Dolores and her daughter Valerie as they struggle to build and sort out their relationship. Like them, most women have struggled with not wanting to be like their mothers, only to find they are fast becoming clones, or alter egos. Father Mike’s voice gently intrudes early on, speaking from a higher wisdom than Dee has ever known, and guides her on a spiritual journey to find meaning and purpose for her new life.
Wallace Stegner, Valerie’s professor at Stanford, and himself, a Pulitzer-Prize winning author of over 30 novels, had inspired her to explore her family’s history: “You may not know who you are, or who your character is, but you know where you came from. Write about that, and you will discover who you are, who your character is”. Valerie began by asking questions of Leora, her grandmother, and secretly started her first novel while in Spain. As the family’s web of secrecy begins to unravel, it creates a unique alliance between mother and daughter.
Many of the great questions each new generation must ask are woven in Valerie’s thoughts as she pursues her own validation and identity. “What must be preserved? What has to die? Do old paths provide a useful surface, like the paths the sheep have walked for generations, or should the path be changed and be lost? What do we fight for? What do we yield to?”
And every family wavers between the tension of establishing roots to foster a child’s responsibility and the gift of independence allowing them to grow wings. Avey has succeeded in painting a multi-layered family portrait just beginning to emerge from the shadows. We eagerly look forward to the discoveries and choices they will make in Book Two.
Mary Stewart Anthony
Author of “Love Song of a Flower Child”, WestBow Press
I can't really say I identified with the main character, Dee, and at times, I didn't particularly like her. But I felt sorry enough for her and the way her life turned out that I could empathize. I wanted to find out what happens after her mother dies. The further I read, the more I wanted to keep reading until the end. And I enjoyed learning about the Basque people group.
The ending is satisfying, although Dee's anger at her twin sister right up to the last made their reactions feel a little abrupt. But I can definitely see such emotions sneaking up on one in that situation so it was believable.
Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone who likes women's fiction. I also look forward to reading more by Ms. Avey.
The Basque culture was always of interest to me and she described it beautifully from the way of life to the food. I also had to remind myself that this was set in the 1950's as the differences did not seem so different from today. The Sheep Walker's Daughter is a light read perfect for summer reading and the beach!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Dolores and Valerie are complex characters, and the author captured their emotions perfectly. Dolores annoyed me at the beginning, but I began to like her as the book went on. By the end, I was rooting for her to finally find herself.
The culture aspect of the book was interesting as well.
I'm really looking forward to the sequel.