A WHISPER OF SMOKE by Angela Hoke

whisper-of-smokeChic lit, known in the higher class circles as women’s fiction.   This is a three hanky melodrama but I, being the hardened case that I am, only used 1 tissue.  And anyway, the ending was telegraphed from about the third page, and anyway No. 2, the book cover says “A beautiful, heart-wrenching story”,  so that gave me time to prepare.

It is the winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Book Award for Women’s Fiction, the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for Women’s Fiction, the 2014 GRW Maggie Award for Excellence and the 2014 Heart of Denver Aspen Gold Award, and Finalist for the 2015 International Book Award.  Not too shabby.

It is classified as women’s fiction, but for me, it seemed more YA, or even oh what is that other category … medium adult?… no, that’s not it.  Almost adult?  No.  Oh, well, maybe you know the category I mean.   I say this because it features Susanna, whom we meet at age 12, her three siblings, her very dysfunctional, drinking parents, and their neighbors, nice people with another big passel of kids.  It is set in the Viet Nam era, and her best friend is the neighbor’s kid, Calvin.   They grow up together with the usual teenage stuff, young love, young fights, different love interests.  And then Calvin in order to avoid having to work the rest of his life on the farm, signs up for military service right out of high school.

See where I am going?  See the need for the hankies?  Yeah, I thought you might.

The story also revolves around Uncle George, the family perv, and the knowledge that mom left home at 15 and married their dad then.  So all in all, it was an ok story, nothing too special but beautifully written, with characters you can sympathize with, but if you are of a certain age, that age being over 50, you have read this story maybe 30 times…. maybe more.

So final verdict?   Not bad, and for younger persons, I can see why it got all those awards.  For me?  I am old and jaded so it takes more than this gentle story to fry my onions.

 

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