Sometimes you have to return to the place where you began, to arrive at the place where you belong.
the early 1970s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia, has a population of
1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace
Cline. The daughter of Ringgold’s third-generation Baptist preacher,
Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying
to escape her small-town life.
Every Saturday afternoon, she
sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to
Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a
reality, she immediately packs her bags, leaving her family and the boy
she loves to claim the life she’s always imagined. But before things
have even begun to get off the ground in Atlanta, tragedy brings
Catherine Grace back home. As a series of extraordinary events alter her
perspective–and sweeping changes come to Ringgold itself–Catherine
Grace begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be,
against all odds, right where she began.
Intelligent, charming, and utterly readable, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen marks the debut of a talented new literary voice.
This was such a neat coming-of-age novel giving us a glimpse of rural life for one young gal in Georgia. We learn the story of Catherine Grace who has grown up without her mother, knowing the world has so much more to offer than what is available in her stupid little town. She looks forward to the day she can leave Ringgold for good.
This story had so many elements to it that I just loved. I found myself smiling or just plain laughing out loud plenty of times while I was reading it. I am sure many girls could read this book and easily put themselves in Catherine Grace's shoes, as I did. Many kids that have grown up in small towns can't wait to get out and explore the world. Personally, I felt the same exact way. But, like Catherine Grace, once you get out there and start living you realize that it isn't what it's cracked up to be.
Catherine Grace has been lucky to have some wonderful people in her life. Even with the support of her Preacher father and motherly women to help her, there were still times she felt left out of events because she didn't have a mother of her own. She not only found kids treating her differently at times, but even adults. It's hard to grow up with confidence when you feel out of place most of the time.
I loved the relationships in this novel. Between Catherine Grace, her sister, her father, and Gloria Jean, I absolutely loved all of the characters. With themes of love, family, and forgiveness I know that many of you would enjoy this book for either personal leisure or a book club discussion. Our book club loved it and I highly recommend this novel.
My Rating: 5/5
Disclosure: This book was from my personal collection and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.
A powerful new novel about an ordinary family facing extraordinary times at the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
China, 1957. Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Many intellectuals fear it is only a trick, and Kai Ying’s husband, Sheng, a teacher, has promised not to jeopardize their safety or that of their young son, Tao. But one July morning, just before his sixth birthday, Tao watches helplessly as Sheng is dragged away for writing a letter criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for “reeducation.”
A year later, still missing his father desperately, Tao climbs to the top of the hundred-year-old kapok tree in front of their home, wanting to see the mountain peaks in the distance. But Tao slips and tumbles thirty feet to the courtyard below, badly breaking his leg.
As Kai Ying struggles to hold her small family together in the face of this shattering reminder of her husband’s absence, other members of the household must face their own guilty secrets and strive to find peace in a world where the old sense of order is falling. Once again, Tsukiyama brings us a powerfully moving story of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances with grace and courage.
Tsukiyama takes us into China when communism is in full force. We are given a glimpse into the lives of one particular family, whose home once would have been considered luxurious, but now after the new laws have been put in place, they struggle to keep food on the table. The chapters alternate between the various characters being told in third person.
I usually enjoy stories from this time period when the author takes us into the characters everyday struggles. Something was missing from this novel for me though. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed any of the characters or felt a special closesness or bond with them. I also don't think the plot within the story itself was strong enough to want me to come back for more after I just closed my book for the day.
Life for everyone living within the villa became a hardship after Sheng, the breadwinner of the household, was taken away as a prisoner of the new Republic of China. Everyone had new responsibilities and duties that were easily performed by Sheng in the past. Young Tao has his own struggles after he falls out of a tree and breaks his leg. This becomes a changing point for his life as he realizes things at home are not as they seem and life at school will never be the same.
All the characters in this novel carry their own burdens, but the one that I sympathize with most would probably be Wei. Wei is Sheng's father and has held a secret deep in his heart since the day they took his son away. One day Wei can no longer take the shame he feels that he has placed on his son's shoulders, and embarks on a journey to set things right.
As I indicated earlier, all the characters have their own crosses to bear, but I just didn't feel a connection to any of them. Maybe I just missed something or was in the wrong frame of mind when reading this novel. With themes of communism, China, family, and honor, you may enjoy this book more than I did.
My Rating: 3/5
Disclosure: This ebook was provided to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.