The Secret of Misty Mountain
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.

The author of this middle grade story spent a wonderful childhood in South Carolina, and from her experiences, a love of southern charm has blossomed, and this is reflected perfectly in this compelling story. Set in Bent Creek, South Carolina, during the 1950’s, this wonderful coming of age story really gives the reader an insight into what life was like for young people back then.

The protagonist Anne comes from a hard working family, and lives on a small farm with her brother Frank and their mama and daddy. As the story begins the family are looking forward to the arrival of Aunt Bessie, their mother’s older sister from Ohio. Aunt Bessie is a larger than life character and these two older women in their stories, and how they act in everyday life, unknowingly influence Anne, as through their examples she learns valuable life lessons about unity, faithfulness and morality.

It’s summertime and playing and making up stories for her dog Spotty in her favorite place in the woods is something Anne loves to do. However, today she is disturbed by another girl, her name is Catherine, and the two are about to discover that friendships forged in youth can last a lifetime…

Catherine and her father have moved from Nashville Tennessee, ostensibly for a quieter way of life, however, as will be revealed the truth is much more complicated than that. Their grand house is secluded and Catherine’s life is surrounded by love. Unfortunately however, summers don’t last forever and children have to go to school, they cannot be protected from the outside world all their lives.

In the teenage years a myriad of emotions come to the surface for both sexes, love blossoms, hormones go wild, and jealousy causes incredible harm when emotionally instigated spitefulness can potentially ruin another person’s life. As the girls’ go through these years, their friendship is tested in many ways, however, when a dark secret about one of them is revealed at school, both girls’ discover how strong their friendship really is.

This betrayal means that life is destined to change forever for the girls’, their families, and indeed the people of Bent Creek. Deeply inbred prejudices and ideals are set to be challenged, sometimes accepted, and even understood. The two girls’, well they discover that the repercussions of that summer are to mold their lives, and the people they become, setting the seeds for their future lives.

In Summary: This powerful coming of age story has it all, at a time when segregation was the norm, ‘people’ of all races ‘new their place,’ and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was yet to make his “I have a dream” speech. Anne and Catherine defy the world, and in this, their powerful story, life lessons can be learnt about kindness to all, strength and family values. Highly recommended! – Susan Keefe TheColumbiaReview

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