Tag Archives: College students

Heather Newton. Under the Mercy Trees. New York: Harper, 2011.

When Leon Owenby, the eldest of five siblings, goes missing in Willoby County, North Carolina, his family rallies together to try to find him. Although he is an ornery (at best) individual, his disappearance is unsettling. Leon always keeps to himself, close to the family’s mountain homeplace, so leaving unannounced is out of character for the sixty-five-year-old.

With the family’s assistance, the sheriff’s office searches the property. As they collect clues that point to Leon’s whereabouts, facts about the siblings surface. James is having an especially hard time dealing with his brother being gone. His wife’s affair with Leon decades earlier left him demoralized, and he feels conflicted now. Martin, the baby of the family, is lost in his own way: he is in a dead relationship, unemployed, and an alcoholic. Coming home to Willoby forces Martin confront old wounds, but being with his childhood friends rejuvenates his spirit. People have always considered Ivy troubled because she sees spirits. Her gift, however, gives Ivy greater insight than anyone suspects. Eugenia resents her siblings’ quirks. Uncomfortable with the undesired attention, she is more interested in keeping up appearances than helping her family cope with their loss.

In their search to find their brother, the Owenbys learn about themselves and their family.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mountains, Newton, Heather, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Roger Saltsman. Agony Hill. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2009.

Running is Eric Roberts’ passion. He admires runners, enjoys the sport, and excels to the point of setting records in his Brevard, North Carolina, high school. His dream is to run in college, and he is delighted to have been courted by some big schools. Sadly, that all disintegrates when he is injured in an accident that kills a friend. Eric, blaming himself for the tragedy, distances himself from his friends, his family, and even his obsession.

After spending two years away in Charleston, Eric decides to return home. He rekindles his friendship with Mary, a favorite running partner, and she challenges him to get back into the sport. By a matter of chance, his landlord is a former running coach who agrees to train Eric. Although he has not run in two years and has put on considerable weight, Eric is determined to be a great athlete. Months of careful training lead him to a race in which he defeats his high school nemesis and qualifies to join the North Carolina State University track team. Three years after his life changed course considerably, Eric puts himself back on track.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Mountains, Saltsman, Roger, Transylvania

Paul Ader. The Leaf against the Sky. New York: Crown Publishers, 1947.

This is a classic coming-of-age novel.  The main character, John Perry, is the son of a Methodist minister.  Soon after his family moves to a new town, John strikes up a friendship with Milton Silverstein and Zona Cahill.  Zona is flirtatious and worldly; Milton is Jewish.  John’s father does not approve of his new friends.  Still, the friendships continue even after the trio goes off to college.  John intends to return to his small hometown one day to edit his local newspaper, but first he has to find his own way, struggling to break free of religious orthodoxy and develop his own opinions.  The college the friends attend is called Trumbull University, but is is easily recognizable as Duke. The mountain town which the friends leave and then return to is called Macon, but a contemporary reviewer thought it was actually Franklin, in Macon County.

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

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Filed under 1940-1949, 1947, Ader, Paul, Durham, Macon, Mountains, Piedmont

Bob Boan. Bobby Becomes Bob. Kingsport, TN: Twilight Times Books, 2009.

As the title suggests, Bobby Becomes Bob is a coming-of-age story.  At twenty-eight Bobby Padgett has returned to his childhood home of St. Umblers, North Carolina.  Before the reader learns why he is back or what his mission there is, we follow Bobby as his mind flashes back to the experiences of his childhood – from his first broken bone to his first love, Sam.  He also recalls experiences such as finding a wallet on the sidewalk, working hard to pay for college, and twice avoiding the Army draft.  As he grew up, Bobby’s parents taught him how to be honorable, a gentleman; they also instilled in him strong family values.

Bobby was drafted for a third time and quickly sent to Vietnam. This altered the course of his life. On his second day in Vietnam, Bobby and his squad were captured. In captivity they were brutally and repeatedly tortured. When Bobby was rescued by American soldiers three and a half years later, he was a different person.  After spending months in Japan, Germany, and Washington, D.C. recovering, Bobby resolves to go by “Robert” or “Bob” from now on as a sign of his maturity.

When he finally returns to St. Umblers, Bob finds a street named in his honor, and Sam walks by him without recognizing her former flame. Bob realizes that his family and friends believe that he died in Vietnam, and that they have changed as much as he has. Although he plans to set the record straight eventually, Bob decides that this day would not be the day for his homecoming, and he returns to Washington.

Small-town North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s is vividly portrayed in this novel.

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

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Boan. Bob, Coastal Plain, Johnston, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Kenneth Butcher. The Middle of the Air. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, Publisher, 2009.

The Colebrook family is not your typical four-generation span of Hendersonville, NC residents. The patriarch, Pipo, is a talented but controversial painter. His son, Philip, has an active business account with a nuclear weapons facility, and Phillip’s wife Lilly heads an ecological watch group while running the local chocolate shop. Their three sons, Xavier, Charles, and Leon have built prototype unmanned spy planes, developed government satellites, and made breakthrough archaeological discoveries, while Leon’s 6-year-old daughter has a precocious knack for drawing and detecting ancient artifacts.

One day a truck full of nuclear fuel goes missing. The theft occurred suspiciously close to where Leon finds a downed unmarked surveillance plane on the Appalachian Trail. After he brings the fuselage of the plane to Xavier’s workshop, all of the Colebrook men fall under investigation by the FBI. It turns out that the higher-ups in Washington are trying to protect a government nuclear power project that doesn’t officially exist. As the FBI discovers, there is more to the entire Colebrook family than meets the eye in this novel of hiking, chocolate, politics and government intrigue.

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

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Butcher, Kenneth, Henderson, Mountains

Burgess Leonard. Phantom of the Foul-Lines. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1952.

A new college basketball season is just around the corner, so it’s an appropriate time to add this novel to your reading list.

Mickey Barton was the captain of his high school basketball team–a team that won the state championship and a national invitational tournament.  That should make him a hot prospect for the premier basketball colleges in his state.  But Mickey has a problem–he is only 5′ 6″.  The big time schools rebuff him, and his best friend and teammate 6′ 10″ Hub Duncan trades his friendship with Mickey for a chance to play for an elite coach.  Mickey, whose dad is dead, needs a scholarship to attend college.  Luckily, his high school coach becomes the basketball coach at Greyling Tech, the perennial cellar dweller in the conference.  Mickey joins Coach Royce there.  Despite the ragtag nature of the team and bad behavior by the coach’s son, they go on to glory.

Mickey’s college, Grayling Tech, is thought to be Wake Forest, but I could not identify any of the schools in the conference.

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

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Filed under 1950-1959, 1952, Children & Young Adults, Leonard, Burgess

Cathy Holton. Beach Trip. New York: Ballantine Books, 2009.

On a resort island off the coast of Wilmington, four friends gather to renew the ties they had as college students twenty years earlier. Mel, Sara, Annie, and Lola plan to sunbathe, laugh, and party, but their conversations develop a darker tone.  Each woman has made her share of mistakes, and each lives with some sorrow.  Annie and Mel unload secrets that have burden them since college, but it is Lola who finds a more dramatic way to turn her life around.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Brunswick, Coast, Holton, Cathy, New Hanover

James Patterson. Kiss the Girls. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

As an expert in abnormal psychology working for the FBI, Dr. Alex Cross is used to calmly solving gruesome crimes, but in Kiss the Girls the case is personal.  His niece–a law student at Duke–is kidnapped while on campus, and he comes to the Triangle to try to help find her.  The North Carolina police and FBI are dealing with “Cassanova,” a man who is collecting beautiful and talented female victims.  There is also a second predator on the loose, a killer on the west coast with the nickname “The Gentleman Caller.”  A break in the case comes when one of Cassanova’s victims, a UNC med student, fights her way free of her captor.  This is the second book in the Alex Cross thriller series and the only one set in North Carolina.  It inspired a 1997 film of the same name starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

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

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1995, Durham, Novels in Series, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Dale Bailey and Jack Slay, Jr. Sleeping Policemen. Urbana, IL: Golden Gryphon Press, 2006.

Many a college student has had this nightmare: you’re out having fun (i.e., drinking with your pals) when inattention, or just bad luck, causes you to harm another person. The dream is so disturbing that most sleepers wake up. This novel follows the nightmare further than anyone wants to go. Three college students, returning to campus from a night of semi-illicit revelry, hit a pedestrian on a deserted mountain road. Nick Laymon, the most upright of the group, makes the driver turn back to confront what has happened. The man who was hit is dead; on his body they find a gun, a bus station locker key, and a roll of large bills. The young men cannot foresee the consequences of their decision to cover up the accident, and soon they are in a world where sexual exploitation, violence, and corruption are the norms. Bodies pile up, and the protagonist, Nick, finds both his strength and his inner darkness. The action moves back and forth between the North Carolina mountains and Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2006, Bailey, Dale, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller

Andrea Ferrell. Autumn Seclusion. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publishing, 2007.

This first novel is a coming of age tale, told in the first person.  Anna is brought up in a strict religious family near the North Carolina coast.  She absorbs most of the lessons of her upbringing, but her family rejects her when she begins dating a Native American student while at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Cut loose from her parents, Anna drifts into drinking and then a disastrous marriage.  Her teaching career provides her with the opportunity to leave this country for Thailand where she finds inner peace through self-acceptance and forgiveness.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Coast, Ferrell, Autumn, Religious/Inspirational