Author Archives: Bridget Madden

Kerry Madden. Jessie’s Mountain. New York: Viking, 2008.

This is the third and final installment of the Maggie Valley trilogy, and many of the Weems family members are facing difficult decisions. Livy Two is still hoping to break into the Nashville music scene. She’s encouraged to reach for her dreams when Grandma Horace gives her Mama’s childhood diary, filled with dreams she never had a chance to follow. The sisters are inspired by the entries in their mother’s diary, and sections of the diary are included throughout the book. While Mama currently struggles with the family’s financial problems and debates moving the family away from their valley home, Livy Two and her younger sister Jitters set out for Nashville and the biggest adventure of their lives. After returning to Maggie Valley the girls, still filled with entrepreneurial spirit, find a way to honor their hardworking Mama and solve the family’s financial problems.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. Louisana’s Song. New York: Viking, 2007.

In this sequel to Gentle’s Holler, Livy Two’s sister Louise is having a hard time going to school – she’s shy and would rather stay home and work on her art. Daddy is finally back at home after the accident, but the family’s financial problems are getting worse. The Weems children help out as they know how – Emmett still works for the carnival, Livy Two helps out with the bookmobile, Becksie waitresses at the nearby pancake house, and Louise begins to sell portraits. Through their endeavors to help the family, Livy Two and Louise begin to come into their own. The confidence Louise gains from selling her art helps her to stand up to the bullies at school in her own special way. Livy Two is also empowered by working and begins to send her songs to the music men in Nashville. However, when Daddy goes missing, will their confidence be shaken?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. Gentle’s Holler. New York: Viking, 2005.

When she’s not babysitting her younger siblings and helping out with household chores, twelve-year-old Livy Two Weems has a wild imagination and wanderlust about seeing the world outside of her mountain valley, largely inspired by the books she borrows from the mobile library. She’s also creative, and takes after her father, a struggling song writer and banjo player. The song lyrics and guitar riffs Livy Two writes about her life and family relationships are interspersed throughout the chapters.

Livy Two’s youngest sister is just a toddler, but Gentle was born blind and needs extra help. The emotional ties between the sisters are explored throughout the book. After Gentle is lost for a few hours in the valley, the tie between Livy Two and Gentle is cemented when Mama ties the two girls together with an apron to prevent Gentle from getting lost again. Through all this, Livy Two keeps her chin up, but when a terrible accident happens to her father, she isn’t sure if she can be strong enough to help her family through these trying times.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2005, Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series

Kerry Madden. The Maggie Valley Trilogy.

Set in the mountains of North Carolina during the early 1960s, the books in the Maggie Valley trilogy follow the Weems family as they go through life in a small valley town in Haywood County.  Jessie and Tom Weems have ten children, with unique talents and personalities.  The books are narrated by Livy Two, their second oldest daughter who is twelve years old and full of moxie.  Livy Two writes her own songs, plays the guitar, and generally takes after her father.  Mountain music and song lyrics are included in many of the chapters, creatively explaining how Livy Two sees the relationships between family members and describing their way of life.  The Weems family is also joined by the cantankerous Grandma Horace and an affable pet dog, Uncle Hazard.  While nothing ever seems to be easy for the Weems family, their ties stay strong as they experience financial problems, health problems, and a major accident.  The novels explore the relationships among all the Weems children, but pay particular attention to three of the Weems daughters – Livy Two, Louise, and Jitters – as they come into their own.

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Filed under Children & Young Adults, Haywood, Madden, Kerry, Mountains, Novels in Series, Series

Terrell T. Garren. The Fifth Skull: A Historical Novel of the Civil War and the American West. Spartanburg, SC: Reprint Co., 2008.

It’s 1864, the last year of the Civil War, when a new conscription law establishes the Confederate Junior Reserves, which requires boys to serve in the army after their 17th birthday.  Protagonists Billy Nick Long of Henderson County and John Rattler of the Snowbird Cherokee Community are sent to Camp Vance in Morganton, NC, along with other members of the Junior Reserve.The boys have not yet been trained or provided with weapons when Union soldiers raid the camp and take the boys as prisoners of war.  In order to save their lives, the boys join the Union Army’s Galvanized Regiments and head west towards California and Oregon to fight in the American Indian Wars.  Garren’s novel weaves historical evidence of the crimes and atrocities committed during these two wars with his coming-of-age tale of two North Carolina boys.

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Filed under 2008, Burke, Garren, Terrell T., Henderson, Historical, Mountains

Cheryl Renée Herbsman. Breathing. New York: Viking, 2009.

Savannah Georgina Brown lives on the coast with her mom and younger brother in a small two-bedroom house. Her father walked out when she was three, and that’s when her asthma attacks started.

It’s the summer before her junior year of high school, and Savannah has a job at the local public library.  One day at the beach, with her inhaler at home, Savannah has a severe asthma attack.  She’s rescued by Jackson, a dreamy surfer staying with his cousins for the summer.  He rushes her home, and her breathing eases.  As their relationship develops, the pains of her past and her asthma begin to lessen.  Their romance is cut short when Jackson has to leave to help his family.  With Jackson gone, Savannah must learn to cope with her asthma and the trials of a long term relationship.  This coming-of-age novel also explores family relationships.  Savannah’s mom, a single parent, deals with her only daughter beginning to date and the summer mischief that her 12-year old son creates.

Breathing is Herbsman’s first novel, and is loosely inspired by the vacations Herbsman spent on the North Carolina coast.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Children & Young Adults, Coast, Herbsman, Cheryl Renée, New Hanover, Romance/Relationship

Wilma Dykeman. The Far Family. New York: Hold, Rinehart and Winston, 1966.

The Far Family picks up after Dykeman’s The Tall Woman and tells the story of Lydia McQueen’s children and grandchildren.  The novel opens in the twentieth century when protagonist Ivy Thurston Cortland, Lydia’s granddaughter, is an old woman.   Ivy and her siblings Clay, Frone, Phoebe, and Kin have left their Nantahala home for other areas of the country, but crisis strikes when Clay returns to the valley town.  An African American man is murdered shortly after his arrival, and Clay is accused of the crime.  The novel’s chapters alternate between “yesterday” and “today” to tell the story of the Martha McQueen Thurston’s children as they reunite to help their brother Clay.  The “today” chapters focus on the family crisis, while the “yesterday” chapters relate the family’s beginning.  Martha and her husband Tom purchased the mountain land where Lydia and Mark McQueen raised their family in The Tall Woman, but Martha’s children have a different relationship with the land than she did when she was a girl.  The family ties are tested and prevail.

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1966, Dykeman, Wilma, Mountains

Wilma Dykeman. The Tall Woman. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962.

Wilma Dykeman tells the story of a tight-knit mountain family living in Appalachia as the Civil War ends and Reconstruction begins.  Lydia McQueen moves to a mountain clearing when her husband, Mark, returns from fighting for the Union during the Civil War and has a difficult time readjusting to their predominately Confederate town in the valley.  On the mountain they raise six children, just a few hours away from Lydia’s parents and siblings who live in the valley below.  The family survives the hardships of mountain life and other trials during a time of political and economic difficulty. Lydia is a woman of action who works hard to rebuild her community and leave the next generation with something better – a school.

The Tall Woman features well-developed characters and relationships without neglecting the character of the Appalachian environment.  Lydia is no less tied to her family than she is the land she farms and the livestock she raises.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1962, Dykeman, Wilma, Graham, Historical, Mountains