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Stone and Spark: Book 1 in the Raleigh Harmon mysteries (Raleigh Hamon mysteries) (Volume 1) Paperback – October 30, 2015
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I look forward to both the second in this YA series and the promised sequel in the adult series. Ms. Giorello is one of my favorite authors and her character, Raleigh Harmon, is one of my favorite sleuths.
From the Back Cover
- Was Drew meeting somebody in secret?
- Escaping her loony parents?
- Or is Raleigh's hunch dead-on: her best friend didn't choose to leave . . . .
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Raleigh and Drew have a few things in common, but the prominent factor is their difficult home life. Raleigh's mother is mentally ill and floats in and out of lucidity, but mostly stays out, as Raleigh's dad does his best to avoid a strained and stress-filled balancing act in their home - without succeeding. Drew's mom is a divorced, self-absorbed, work-governed, position-climber by weekday, drunk on the weekend, parent while her dad is no less a self-absorbed, now banker-turned-free-spirit starving artist. So as best friends who forged their friendship from various feelings of alienation from the social-climbing twits at their private school and from their different kinds of intelligence, Raleigh and Drew meet every Friday evening at a former Atlanta Braves player's little burger joint for the staple of teen meals: burgers and shakes. Whoever arrives first earns a free milkshake from the owner Titus.
When Raleigh beats Drew to their hangout for the first time after securing a surprise to show Drew, Raleigh's elation soon fades to suspicion and doubt when Drew fails to show. After leaving the restaurant to go to Drew's house, she finds Drew's mother Jayne there, drunk, but no Drew. From this moment on Raleigh is determined to find her best friend based on everything she's learned about Drew and from her young instincts as to Drew's behaviors.
Raleigh's relentless pursuit and her rock-solid belief that her friend is in trouble convinces almost no one that Drew hasn't decided to just disappear to get much-needed attention. A few even believe Raleigh is involved in the conspiracy.
In this story we see and feel the tremendous burden and pain of a young girl, who should be enjoying discovering her skills and allowing herself the comfort and thrill of young romance, enduring an intense conflict with her mom's multiple faces of mental illness which cause her and her dad to guard every word, every action, almost every thought in their home. Raleigh feels she doesn't matter much in the heirarchy, especially since her mom always refers to Raleigh's older sister Helen (away at college) with such favor and looks at Raleigh with constant suspicion.
Raleigh's moral dilemmas face mounting challenges as her faith in God wears thin. Drew is missing, and the police seem handcuffed by unconvinced parents as to Drew's whereabouts. Raleigh's perseverance takes her into dangerous places physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but she won't give up the hunt. She runs, she bikes, in the cold dark after-midnight hours searching, escaping, finding, and fleeing. Risking it all for the friend she needs to prove her worth, to share her pain. To rescue each other.
Sibella's writing continues to be at a high level, an inspiring example to those of us who write. Her wit, intelligence, and the perfectly organic presentation of faith remind us what Christian novels are supposed to be. This is a meaningful story of love and loss, mystery and mayhem, determination and devotion, all meshed together in a picture of a young girl's heart struggling with each one.
I'm a sap - that's no surprise - but there are a couple of emotional scenes in Stone and Spark which will gnaw at your gut and if you don't have Raleigh's practiced control, you will cry.
Stone and Spark by Sibella Giorello, published by Cool Gus Publishing, is a beautiful but painful story of the young Raleigh Harmon. A quick read that drives you to the next page but one you don't want to come to an end in spite of the hurt, the tears, the struggle . . . because you recognize Sibella has caught life in her words, and those words just won't let you go.
An absolute must read for lovers of mysteries and one of today's finest and superbly written characters: Raleigh Harmon.
I rarely give books five stars, but this novel deserves every one of them.
Many of her friends are wrapped up into the books as well. Strongly recommended!
I enjoyed this book on many levels. I love books that place girls in strong, intelligent roles and this one definitely does this. Although there were slight romantic undertones, they never took over the bulk of the book. The characters are genuine and realistic. The author’s writing is witty, intelligent and engaging. All of these things combined make a compelling and highly appealing YA book.
The one thing I would say is that the book seemed to drag a little bit here and there – particularly early on in the story. However, when things did get going, they moved along nicely. There’s plenty of mystery and suspense to keep readers interested until the end.
Overall, I’d say Stone and Spark is a wonderful book for teens and adults. It’s a great way to get a feel for the author’s writing and the rest of the books in this series. Recommended!
There were only a few aspects that I thought needed improvement. The first half of the story telling was lacking in showing Raleigh's age. I thought she was around 11 or 12 years old. I read how old she was but my brain kept imagining a young adolescent girl around 11 years old. I had to keep reminding myself of Raleigh's age. Raleigh's thoughts and actions seemed very young the first half of the story. As the book progressed, she changed and I could see her teenage years. There were some parts of the writing that could have been improved with better adjectives and descriptions. For example, here is one of Raleigh's thoughts, "I explain all the official rules regarding missing persons, how the situation is retarded because her parents are retarded". There are SO many other adjectives to describe idiotic people and horrible situations; retarded is not an adjective that appeals to my brain, it can be offensive to some people and it's harsh on the eyes.
Overall, I would recommend this book, it's a young adult suspense/mystery that will keep you intrigued.