Sherri Wood Emmons‘s new trade paperback original is a beautiful package, with a bright, eye-catching cover and heavy, deckle-edged pages.
Emmons’s first novel, Prayers and Lies (Kensington, 2011), was also a coming-of-age, family story, set in rural West Virginia. The Sometimes Daughter could be considered historical fiction; the time period is such an important part of the story. Readers interested in the culture of the ’60s will be drawn in by the opportunity to experience it from a teen perspective.
Adult/High School–Her mother named her “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes,” because Crosby, Stills & Nash were playing it when Judy was born in a tent at Woodstock. This unorthodox beginning heralded a childhood several steps removed from ordinary. Cassie filled her daughter’s life with the exuberance of a free spirit. Young Judy cherishes the memories of her mother’s bright skirts swirling as she dances; the fragrance of fresh herbs mingling with marijuana and incense filling their apartment; and the big-hearted adults happy to sit and play with her. When Cassie whisks Judy to a communal farm, however, her father comes to take her back home, much to her relief. Now she thrives in a stable life of school, birthday parties, and family dinners. Cassie remains distant, on her own adventures, making occasional, chaotic contact with Judy. Finally, after she has moved to California and borne another child, Judy realizes that her intense feelings towards her mother are composed of both love and fury. What kind of mother leaves her child as Cassie did? Teen readers may find themselves identifying alternately with Cassie, the eternal adolescent, and Judy, a young girl who struggles to maintain the normalcy of a home life. As Cassie tries on some of her generation’s most foolish, idealistic guises (doped-up free love hippie, farm-commune free-love practitioner, member of Jim Jones’s The Peoples Temple,) Judy longs for Cassie to return and simply be her mother. Teens who appreciated Lauren Myracle’s Bliss (Amulet, 2008) or autobiographies by Augusten Burroughs and Jeannette Walls of dysfunctional family survivors should also enjoy this novel.–Diane Colson, Palm Harbor Library, FL