A Novel by K. Melissa Burton
This book will not be released until August 31, 2010. In full disclosure, this is a review copy from the author; I already love reading her children's books.
Perfect Paperback: 240 pages; $14.99
Publisher: Tate Publishing (August 31, 2010)
"She seemed like your average country girl on a farm in rural Kentucky...Melissa Burton's grandparents met at Kavanaugh High School in the late 1940s, so it was easy to settle on a research paper while she was in college. As she was going through old newspaper clippings, she found an article with two pictures from 1912. The pictures contained five girls and a basketball. This photo opened Burton's imagination and took her on a journey that would become "With Purpose and Promise."
But she had purpose...
She had promise...
And she had an opportunity.
Inspired by real-life local events in her hometown of Lawrenceburg, author K. Melissa Burton introduces Lilly Kate Overstreet, a resourceful young lady of the early 1900s. As Lilly Kate nears the end of eighth grade, she assumes her years of education are coming to a close. But when a family tragedy opens the door for her to attend the local high school, Lilly Kate takes up the mantle to be the first in her family to receive a high school diploma.
But the task is far from easy. Not only is the school's founder, Mrs. Kavanaugh, a formidable taskmaster, Lilly Kate is nearly overwhelmed by the changes taking place in her life and in the world around her. Yet, when the girls of Kavanaugh High are introduced to a new game called basketball, it proves to be a catalyst for moving them all forward."
I normally read Burton's children's books, so I was apprehensive when I began her first novel. After the first few pages, I put my fears to rest and enjoyed one of the best stories I read in a long time.
From the time Lilly Kate was a small child, she dreamed of going to the small school in Fox Creek. When Lillian Katherine Street finally got to announce her name to her first grade teacher she did it with authority and pride. When the teacher told her that was a big name for a little girl, Lilly Kate answered, "My poppa says it's a name filled with purpose and promise." From that line, I was in love with Lilly Kate.
Life in the early 1900s was still extremely hard for most farm families. Most farms still did not have running water or electricity, but they maintained large gardens to feed and support their families. This was also a time of tragedies and serious changes in family life.
Without giving spoilers, on Lilly Kate's 13th birthday tragedy entered the Overstreet family, she and her mother were forced to move to town. One mother, one daughter, but two strong women. Even though life was hard, all things happen for a reason. When the new home in town was refurnished, Momma used money from the sale of the farm to buy a new Singer sewing machine in order to take in sewing work. Lilly Kate, who loved to bake, was able to make spending money of her own.
When she graduated eighth grade, Lilly Kate was able to begin attending Kavanaugh High School, something she thought would never happen. Keeping her nose to the grindstone and showed respect to others which opened doors for her she never thought would happen. I was proud of Lilly Kate when she stood up for women's right to vote and when she kept a private secret for a girl who had treated her badly for three years of high school.
This book made me cry and it made me laugh out loud. It made me reevaluate my life and realize that my life is easy compared to what it would have been like in 1912, the year Lilly Kate graduated high school.
The two phrases I enjoyed the most were:
"...but maybe God's just shutting this door so you'll go through a door of his choosing."
"...Daughter I'm not sure what the future holds, but I'm quite confident that it will be fantastic. Pray about it. Listen to that still small, voice, and you can't go wrong."
Burton's words were like lyrical prose on each and every page. I could smell the firewood or the food that was cooking. I could smell the flowers or the pages of brand-new books. I could she the latest fashions in the clothes Lilly Kate's Momma made. And I think the thing I love the most was Burton spelling Momma the way I always spelled Momma. I know this is a book my Momma would have enjoyed reading - it is definitely one I will be passing around to my family and recommending to family, friends and my neighborhood librarians.
I look forward to Burton's next novel.
Available from Tate Publishing and Amazon on August 31, 2010.