Category Archives: Caldwell

Caldwell

Anton DiSclafani. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. New York: Riverhead Books, 2013.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for GirlsThea Atwell has done something terrible. What teenaged Thea has done exactly is not clear, at least not right away. However, it is certain that Thea’s shameful actions have caused a rift in the Atwell family, so much so that she is shipped hastily from her insulated home near Emathla, Florida to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in Blowing Rock, North Carolina in the middle of the summer.

The sudden separation is a shock for Thea. Before her relocation, she lived in virtual isolation. Her family resided outside of town and Thea had few regular interactions with other people aside from her mother, father, twin brother, Sam, and a handful of immediate relatives. She feels acute pain and longing in her separation from Sam, her primary companion, in particular. Her absence severs their deep bond as twins.  Upon and following her removal from her home, she questions the endurance of her family and their connection to each other.

The novel is set in 1930, during the difficult years of the Great Depression. Thanks to the Atwell citrus farm though, Thea’s family has remained largely unscathed by financial burdens. They are not necessarily wealthy, but they are comfortable for sure. If not for her indiscretions, Thea might have continued without much notice of the Depression. Not until Thea is removed from her home does she begin to notice traces of financial insecurity and become more acutely aware of class differences surrounding her.

Not surprisingly, the transition to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp, or YRC, is abrupt and disorienting for Thea. Everything at YRC is different from Florida: the land is mountainous rather than flat, the camp is populated by girls and Thea is unaccustomed to female friendship. The lifestyle and attitudes at the camp are quite alien to Thea as well. Although Thea is from the South geographically speaking, she does not feel Southern culturally, and she displays emotions of inferiority in her new locale.

The fact that gossip clings to Thea, due to her mid-season enrollment, does not help her acclimation either. Nevertheless, she is befriended by a popular girl named Sissy who helps her through the social minefields of the camp. Despite Thea’s alliances, she is still snubbed by girls from more fashionable areas like Memphis and Atlanta and she develops a rivalry with Leona Keller, the top rider at the camp. Apart from Sissy, horses help Thea adjust to her surroundings. She is an expert rider. Her fearlessness for riding and her competitive nature benefit her in the ring. Novelist Anton DiSclafani’s equestrian background is apparent in her writing.

DiSclafani does not reveal the specifics of Thea’s inappropriate behavior up front. Instead she chooses to gradually reveal the details of Thea’s scandal alongside her arrival at YRC so that the two stories are intertwined with heavier suspense. The novel’s setting almost appears tangible with its atmospheric description. Indeed, the world of YRC is so lucid and authentic that it could believably exist off the page. Much like Thea’s sheltered life in Florida, YRC seems to be shielded at large from the world suffering at the hands of the Depression. But DiSclafani hints that the bubble that YRC and its occupants exist within might not be as protected as it appears. Currents of change are manifested throughout the story in both possessions and customs. Moreover, Thea is in for another surprise when she discovers that YRC is more than just a riding camp…

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Caldwell, DiSclafani, Anton, Mountains, Watauga

Ryan Jakubsen. Portals III: Band of Rogues. Kernersville: Alabaster Publishing Company, 2011.

portals In Ryan Jakubsen’s conclusion to the Portals trilogy, the Pierce brothers, dropped  on Grandfather Mountain by a tornado and lost in other-world realms linked by portals, move through one final gateway. Their mission?  To find home.

Having fixed the portal that will transport them stateside, brothers Axel, Alex, and Exile are ready to say goodbye to their brother Jacob, the new warrior king of wolf-man hybrids, a faction of “manimals.” Joined by Lucy and Jackellel, the group ventures on, this time in a dimension where trees have eyes, ancient Pierce kin reign, manimal spiders joust, and the “shrockney” beatle conjures instant death. But control of the portals is unstable, and a War of the Rogues is blooming. When a written message from the Pierces to their hosts disappears by way of courier concussion, the company’s safety is jeopardized. The addition of mysterious newcomers Araknia and The Dark One keeps suspicion, lies, and allegiances ever-puzzling and occasionally deadly while the Pierces travel.

Told by cosmic, animal, and human voices, the brothers’ story imaginatively beams from a spaceless battlefield to North Carolina locations like the UNC School of Law and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Families and their journeys are taken to new worlds in fifth-grader Ryan Jakubsen’s last installment of this series for young adult readers. Follow the portal home? If only it were that simple.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Avery, Caldwell, Children & Young Adults, Jakubsen, Ryan, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Orange, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Watauga

Susan Woodring. Goliath. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012.

Goliath is a small town in North Carolina, based on similar places in Caldwell and Burke counties; it has a classic main street with shops and homes, a church, and a couple of diners. Its main claim to fame is the Harding Furniture Factory, a world famous company devoted to the creation of artisan furniture. The Harding family has been a pillar of Goliath for going on a century. The current patriarch, head of the factory and center of the community, is Percy Harding–until a teenage boy with a penchant for arson finds him dead one October morning, crushed on the railroad tracks.

Percy Harding’s death is the beginning of Goliath’s demise, and as the town slowly crumbles, we witness its destruction one person at a time. There is Rosamond Rogers, Percy Harding’s secretary. Abandoned by her philandering traveling salesman  husband and uncaring daughter, Percy was the only bright spot in Rosamond’s life. Even though her daughter, Agnes, is back in town after inexplicably dropping out of college, the mother and daughter’s relationship remains strained. Agnes always knew she would leave Goliath, while Rosamond could never imagine being anywhere else. Clyde Winston, her neighbor and the town’s police chief, is on the edge of retirement. Having lost his wife a few years ago, and estranged from Ray, his preacher son, Clyde is cautiously drawn to Rosamond and she to him. But somehow every time they connect they are pushed apart, like the opposite sides of two magnets.

Meanwhile, the town’s teenage population is in uproar. Junior girls at the local high school form a group that writes morbid poetry on pink paper. They leave their compositions in lockers, the library, and under the guidance counselor’s door. Students take to wearing black, and there is talk of a secret suicide pact. Vincent Bailey, the teenager who found Percy Harding, becomes obsessed with the poetry group’s ringleader: a reckless girl named Cassie. Slowly, seemingly unrelated events build together until one day Vincent Bailey and his friends arrive at a single idea that will result in the final knell for Goliath.

In this debut novel, Susan Woodring explores what the death of a small town looks like, and how the end of one company can spell the end of an entire community.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Burke, Caldwell, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Woodring, Susan

Bobbie Pyron. A Dog’s Way Home. New York: Katherine Tegen Books, 2011.

Abby Whistler, age eleven, knows that Tam is her true north star. It doesn’t matter that Tam is a Sheltie; nothing feels more right than when they are together. But then the unthinkable happens: a terrible accident, and Tam and Abby are separated with hundreds of miles dividing them. Still, Abby refuses to stop believing that her Tam will return, and the little Sheltie, filled with an indomitable spirit, will do anything to see his girl again.  Both Tam and Abby make new friends, encounter heartbreak, and discover their strength as they desperately attempt to reunite.

Bobbie Pyron has crafted a novel filled with the magic and dangerous beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its inhabitants- an inspiring tale of determination and the power of love. Although highly suspenseful, this heartwarming tale will delight both parents and children, and you will cheer for the intrepid Abby Whistler and her true north star, the sweet and soulful Tam.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Caldwell, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Mountains, Pyron, Bobbie, Suspense/Thriller, Transylvania, Watauga

Donald Secreast. White Trash, Red Velvet. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Although it technically consists of short stories, White Trash, Red Velvet can be read as a novel. When taken as a whole, the book tells the story of Curtis and Adele Holsclaw, their three children, and their friends and relatives in the fictional town of Hibriten (likely based on Lenoir, NC). The first story takes place in 1952 and the other eleven follow the family and town through several decades of blue-collar southern life.

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

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1993, Caldwell, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Seacrest, Donald

Shepherd M. Dugger. The Balsam Groves of the Grandfather Mountain: A Tale of the Western North Carolina Mountains. Banner Elk: Shepherd M. Dugger, 1892.

A travel novel that follows an assortment of vacationers climbing Grandfather Mountain. The climbers enjoy the scenery, adventure, and romance. A wedding performed against the backdrop of Linville Falls is one of the high points of the novel, but modern readers may be most interested in the illustrations and tourist information scattered throughout the volume.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1890-1899, 1892, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Dugger, Shepherd M., Mountains, Novels to Read Online, Watauga