Today on the blog I am hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Guilt of A Sparrow, the debut novel by Jess B. Moore. A big thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book.
“Magnolia Porter has spent the entirety of her twenty-four years satisfying her mother’s guilt. She was the good girl to her trouble making brother, Lucian – the one left behind to hold her mother together after he died. She is an invisible girl in a small town carrying the burden of her family’s loss and pain. Maggie was nobody trying desperately to be somebody.
Cotton MacKenna is the one with the temper. Of the five MacKenna boys, he’s the one most likely to throw the first punch. Never mind all those fights were a decade ago, all in an attempt to save a sweet girl from her bullying older brother. Now, Cotton has grown up, with his own photography business, yet as the fourth in the line of MacKennas, he would only ever be known for his past. Time for a change.
Maggie and Cotton are more than the labels placed on them, put there by their families, the town, and themselves.
A meddling best friend. Bluegrass jams. Small town gossiping. Love, loss, and family ties. Learning how to be who you are outside of who you were told to be. With humor and plenty of romance, of course.”
Oh, this book is just beautiful. I am so surprised by how much I have fallen in love with it, as it was one that wasn’t high on my radar amongst the books I have signed up to read this month. Outshone on the shelf by some more highly-hyped books and authors, it has secretly and stealthy snuck up and stolen my heart piece by piece as I turned the pages.
This is the story of Magnolia and Cotton, two lonely and over-looked, misunderstood people in a small, remote town in the mountains of North Carolina. Family and community pressures have placed them both in positions that they are fighting to escape, and finding each other might just help them do that, if they can let go of all that is holding them back.
This is a book entirely driven by character. Told in alternating viewpoints between Magnolia and Cotton, everything is filtered through their individual perspectives and it is joyous. The writing gets us deep under their skins, into their psyches and we are able to feel every tiny emotion they are feeling. The author does the most amazing job of bringing these two troubled people to life and making the reader experience every nuance of emotion they are going through. I haven’t read a book recently in which I have been so closely aligned with a character’s emotions, and the fact that she manages to do it with both of them is astounding. I was desperate for things to work out for them both, tense when it looked like it was going wrong, feeling the highs and lows along with each of them. I was riding the rollercoaster of emotions so completely with them that I felt these things were happening to me.
Indeed, some of these things have happened to me. Jess has managed to capture those feelings of falling intensely in love with someone so accurately that it immediately took me back to those times when I have felt this myself, and that nostalgia was a bittersweet feeling that carried me all the way through with the characters. I remembered being Magnolia, all those sensations she was having I relived and I think this was the main reason I loved this book so much. It felt real. It felt like something that had actually happened, rather than just a story. I was totally immersed in it and carried along with it. I felt like it might be my heart that was broken if things didn’t work out the way I so fervently hoped they would.
Because the book is so intimately involved with the emotions of two characters and so closely written from their perspectives, this is not going to appeal to anyone who is looking for a lot of action in a book. It is a gentle tale set in a small town where nothing huge happens. There are no grand external dramas or events, no major crises that force things to happen. If you looked it from the outside, you wouldn’t see anything extraordinary happening, because all the drama is on the inside of these two people. I revelled in this but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
The challenges the characters are facing are those arising from living up to family expectations. From having to try and break out of unhealthy patterns of behaviour and relationships that are holding us back and stopping us being happy in the way we know we deserve. Of facing and defying the opinions and censure of a small town where we have been labelled with traits that are no longer who we are. Of finding the courage to stand up and be who we are truly meant to be, to go after what we want, in the face of opposition. These ARE the big issues of life, the dramas that we are all facing on a daily basis and it is refreshing to see a book that focuses on these as enough of a plot in themselves to eschew throwing in external conflict for the sake of spicing things up. This book is proof that it is not necessary to rely on such props if the writing is good and true.
This was an unexpected treat that I know I will return to again and I am going to buy myself a paperback copy to enjoy in the future.
The Guilt of the Sparrow is out now and you can get a copy here.
If you would like to see what my fellow bloggers make of the book, you find details of the other stops on the tour below:
About the Author
Jess B Moore is a writer of love stories. When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her talented and stubborn children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.
Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family. She takes too many pictures of her cat, thinking the Internet loves him as much as she does. She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.
The Guilt of a Sparrow is her debut novel combining her interests in family, music, and small towns into a thoughtful tale of growing up and falling in love. Her second book, Fierce Grace, follows similar themes in a whole new way, and will be available later in 2018.
Connect with Jess:
Facebook: Jess B. Moore
Goodreads: Jess B. Moore