12 January 2011


This is the second book that I have read by Sarah Addison Allen, the first one being The Girl Who Chased the Moon.  As in that book, this one takes place in a small town in Georgia and at it's heart is an unusual family that has a lot to do with the history of the town and it's folklore. But where the the first one was more YA to me, this one is definitely a chick lit read.  And as such, it is a good read.  I sometimes have trouble with Chick Lit because their is either too much romance and sex, or too much fluff, but usually not enough story.  This book was not like that.  Yes, there were romantic attachments, yes there was sex, and yes it was an easy read, but there was also a good story about what it means to be family.

As I gather that most of her books do, the main characters in this book have a "magical" quirk.  In this case, the main character, Claire, has inherited the Waverly family garden.  The garden is special because food made from the plants grown in the garden can alter people's behavior and mood.  And an apple from the tree will tell you what your most important moment in life will be.  But Claire isn't the only Waverly that has "special" talents.  In fact, my favorite character was her Aunt Evanelle, who "just knew she had to give [people] things.  She would show up at all times of the day or night with some totally random item for people.  In addition, she had a very sassy personality.  For example, she loved to walk the track at the local college and watch the "bums" of the college guys who were running on the track.  My Second favorite character was actually the apple tree mentioned above, which turned out to have a personality all its own.  One wonders how things would be if they let the apple tree decide.


The book's central character, Rose, realizes at the age of nine that she can "taste" the feelings of the people that make the food she eats. When I was explaining that to a friend, she mentioned that it was somewhat like Like Water for Chocolate, that it had the same premise.  I readily agreed, but as I read, I realized that the two books are nothing alike.  Where Like Water for Chocolatehad a definite mystical flavor, this book has a far more "practical" (for want of a better word) approach.  The author uses the trait as a device to illustrate the central character's struggle with growing up, growing aware of the limitations of people in general, and her family in particular.  With it she was able to talk about the loss of innocence and a child's  difficulty in dealing with the fact that those around them, including parents, aren't perfect, without sounding trite or preachy.  I found it interesting that the only person in Rose's life who was close to perfect, was a character who NEVER made Rose anything to eat, so we never got to see their inner feelings and thus their shortcomings.

Rose wasn't the only character in the book that intrigued me, either.  Although the character of the mother was complex, I found Rose's brother and father much more interesting and the mother much more of a standard character.  In addition, Grandma in Washington and Sherrine were great characters who helped tell us about life.

All in all, I definitely liked the way the author used her quirky characters to weave a great story about growing up and learning to deal with what life throws at you. In fact, I told myself that I was going to be more stingy and discerning with my 5 star rating this year, but this book just fits the bill. It was a draws me in, intrigues me, can't wait to see where it goes, WOW! book. Thanks to my friend Scoozer for bringing it to my attention. [