April 23, 2012

The Courage to Survive • At Season's End

At Season's End book cover
At Season's End by Eric Hendershot
Publisher: Cedar Fort, Inc.
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
Source/Format: Publisher (Thanks!) || e-book
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the contents of my review.]

Hit hard by the Great Depression, Sal’s family loads up an old Buick and heads out to find work wherever they can. Driving from place to place, living off the little they can make, they soon realize they’ll never be able to afford to settle down again. Then, when tragedy strikes, Sal and her brother must learn to fend for themselves. In a world of harsh realities, there’s no room left for romance. But that can’t stop Sal from dreaming of a life with Ben—a boy from another migrant family—even though she knows she may never see him again.

I honestly had no idea what to expect when I went into reading AT SEASON'S END, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised by how much I connected to and enjoyed this novel. The story of siblings Sal and Tim - their struggles, their determination to succeed, their moments of vulnerability - definitely hit a sweet spot in my heart. Though the dialect took a little getting used to, I really found that I enjoyed this read.

The Character

Sal is the main narrator of this novel, which meant we were mostly privy to her private thoughts. It is through her eyes that the reader gets to know every other character, so this book is definitely biased in that way - but since it is her story (her family's story, to be exact), I definitely do not consider that a disadvantage.

Her voice comes across as charming, young and refreshingly honest. As a reader, I found myself sympathizing with her situation and rooting for her.

The Story

I'm a large fan of stories that show how good people can overcome any obstacles life throws into their way to get to their "happy ending". This is the basic formula of this novel - and it is beautifully tackled.  The flow of events came across as realistic and natural; none of it felt contrived or forced.

Though the formula is typical, the characters and their particular struggles sets it apart from many other similar stories. I could really sympathize with Sal, Tim and their struggles as a family. And I was definitely rooting for the happy ending!

One thing I will warn potential readers about - there is a certain kind of dialect or vocabulary used in this story. It does not take away from the story at all, in my opinion, and it does add to the authenticity of the narrator's voice. But I'm aware that reading stories like this is not for everyone, so consider this fair warning.

Personally, I say you should...

Read this novel if you're a fan of great characters. This story is something completely different from what I usually read - but it's definitely a welcome departure. It's also relatively short, so it's a nice, chill and easy read.


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