It’s 1949 in Tennessee Smoky Mountain country, and everything in pre-teen Salina’s life seems suddenly different. Her sister is engaged, her brother is absorbed in caring for his sickly foal, and salina feels she has nothing in common anymore with her best friend. This novel for young people captures the insular spirit of the mountain people, the breathtaking country itself, and a girl’s struggle to accept the inevitability of change.
“An evocative first novel….the message is rounded out with lively characters, period details, and the sustained use of Salina’s childlike point of view.” – Kirkus
“. . . .A story as intricately patterned and multicolored as a practical, quilted coat—one that will warm readers, too.” -ALA Booklist Starred Review
“This finely crafted first novel engagingly depicts early adolescent feelings. All the events in the story occur between the first day of school and Christmas, in a year when Salina Harris moves beyond her concerns for popularity to an unfolding friendship with Scooter Russell, an unwelcome new-comer. . . .It is well paced, building to a dramatic climax; it creates a strong sense of time and place; and the novel includes a likable cast of characters and even a romance.” -Horn Book Magazine
“Salina is a wonderfully drawn character (who), with the help of loving parents and a teacher who challenges her to see a larger picture, realizes that change is inevitable, and that she will be able to accept it.” -School Library Journal
“Things don’t always work out the way you want them to – not for people in books or anyone else.”
My roots reach back to the shadows of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, and to this day those mountains are my happy place. So, when I read the blurb for Come Next Spring I couldn’t resist signing up for the blog tour, even though you won’t typically see a lot of middle grade books reviewed here.
Salina’s story is one of the natural ups and downs that come with being a 12-year-old girl. Especially a 12-year-old girl who hates change. Add to the mix that she’s a 12-year-old girl in 1949 rural Tennessee, and you have a new set of issues to deal with too. Like the rumors of a new road that might cut right through their farmland… or being torn between two friends from very different social statuses… or taking a train out of the mountain into Nashville for the very first time… or waiting with bated breath to hear back from Margaret Mitchell about whether Rhett ever returned to Scarlett.
Come Next Spring is one of those books that you can read in an evening – and you’ll want to curl up with a warm quilt and a hot beverage while you do. The characters are engaging and memorable, and it’s easy to imagine them as real people who lived and breathed and laughed and loved. Scooter is my favorite character – a little quirky, a lot different from the status quo but not so different from Salina after all. (I know this was written 25 years ago, but Scooter reminds me of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series!)
Bottom Line: Sweet and inspiring, Come Next Spring is rich with a history largely undiscussed today. As the mountains become less of a home and more of a tourist destination, the effects of a world war still linger even as rumors of another loom. Though it is geared toward younger readers, adults will also enjoy it. My only complaint is that I want a sequel! I would love to know where these compelling characters end up ten, twenty years down the road.
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from HFVBT for review purposes. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that there are a couple of very minor curse words used occasionally in this book.
My Rating: 4 stars / Loved it!
Alana White is the author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. Her most recent publications are the adult historical mystery novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, set at the height of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, Italy, and Come Next Spring, a coming of age novel set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in the 1940s. She is also the author of a biography of Sacagawea, Sacagawea: Westward With Lewis and Clark. She is a longtime member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Nashville, TN.
Alana welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit her at www.AlanaWhite.com for more information. As well as HNS and SCBWI, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Author’s Guild, and the Women’s National Book Association.
To win a paperback copy of Come Next Spring by Alana White, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs!
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– Only one entry per household.
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– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Follow along with the HFVBT tour!
What about you? Have you ever been to the Smoky Mountains?