This book started off with a great story of a young boy caught in an impossible situation, a black teenager killing a Klansman in self-defense in 1913. The second section, a young woman unknowingly marrying a mobster, began another storyline that intersected tangentially with the first. This was really two distinct stories, both good, but not related enough to be in one novel. It tries to be historical fiction by mentioning historical events, but the characters are not really affected, just referencing them. Even with these niggles, the characters are solid, interesting, and endearing, even the ones who struggle the most to be good, and I recommend it for that alone. It’s really like getting two stories in one, actually. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy from the author through NetGalley.
A mysterious benefactor rescues teenage drug dealer Daniel from his path to prison. The benefactor runs a “school” with unorthodox teaching methods, sometimes with deadly results. Hopkins creates beautifully flawed characters in an impossible situation at an already highly emotional time in their lives. At times belief must be suspended with a strong will, but this is still a story I recommend for its compelling storyline and sympathetic, vulnerable characters. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this award-winning novel from the publisher Text Publishing through NetGalley.
About the Book:
Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.
Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.
Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.
In Emmeline’s childhood, mermaids brought supplies to their island cabin, and scents of faraway places lived in beautiful bottles covering the back wall. Made with a mysterious machine, these scents inspire her father’s tales of Queen Emmeline and Jack, the Scent Hunter. Tragedy thrusts her into the mainstream world, where secrets are revealed and Emmeline must redefine family. Bauermeister portrays a magical land of enchantment from a child’s perspective, and the demise of innocence so well that dear reader’s heart breaks for Emmeline. I was fortunate to receive this beautiful story of never giving up on your dream, and unintended consequences, from St. Martin’s Press through NetGalley.
About the Author:
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the bestselling novel The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners, and The Lost Art of Mixing. She is also the co-author of the non-fiction works, 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader’s Guide and Let’s Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She has a PhD in literature from the University of Washington, and has taught there and at Antioch University. She is a founding member of the Seattle7Writers and currently lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
Leni doesn’t understand the love that binds her mother in marriage to a man suffering from PTSD. Hannah’s sympathetic view of a Vietnam War POW is heartrending as he struggles to assimilate back into a normal life in Seattle. After inheriting a cabin in a small town, he decides to take his family to Alaska to avoid the government and live off the grid. Kristin Hannah is familiar with the harsh wilderness of Alaska, and she depicts well the lifestyle of those who choose to live where one mistake can cost you your life. All characters are well developed and their reasons for living in such isolation are hinted at and sometimes told outright. The reader can feel the lure of the landscape and the wildlife, and the pragmatic nature of small town Alaska, where everyone takes care of even the most resistant newcomer. As Leni comes of age and finds herself falling for her classmate and friend, her father’s paranoia escalates to dangerous heights for his family. This is when Leni discovers her mother’s breaking point, and eventually her own need for the kind of freedom that Alaska offers. Leni’s story is one of many that show how living outside the mainstream can become a lifestyle choice, a necessity for the soul. Her parents are not unusual in their challenge to maintain a marriage in the face of one partner’s personal demons. When external influences exacerbate those demons, the other partner finds the limit to the relationship.
This is a gorgeous novel of Alaska, a setting that comes across as a main character in the story, ever present, a big personality.
I’m thankful to have received a digital ARC of this wonderful story through NetGalley.