Monday, April 16, 2012

Review Day: Fireflies in December

It's Review Day!!!!!

This review is for the TBR Challenge.  Click the pretty button on the top right side of the page to read more about the challenge.

Title: Fireflies in December
Author: Jennifer Valent
Rating: 3 stars

photo from Amazon
(description from Amazon)
Little does anyone realize that simple Christian charity will inflame the bigots and hatemongers in this small Virginia town. Escalating episodes of horrific violence ensue, including sexual attacks directed at 13-year-old Jessilyn Lassiter, the novel’s narrator, after her white family takes in her black best friend, Gemma, when she is orphaned by a tragic fire. Winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s 2007 Operation First Novel contest, Valent has created a darkly evocative historical novel that boldly explores the divisive effects of unreasoning hatred, greed, and fear on a community already struggling with the economic and racial tensions caused by the Depression and exacerbated by the Ku Klux Klan. As these forces impact one family, childhood innocence is lost, but Valent’s characters also experience the affirmation of a deeper, more lasting faith. (end)

A book that instantly brought To Kill a Mockingbird to mind, this one promised so much...yet gave me less.  The best part about this book was the characters by far.  Jessilyn, her parents, Gemma, and Luke are quite the group.  The characters come alive like few books of this type are able to do.  Each one has a very distinct personality that makes them fit together perfectly with the rest.  Valent pieced together the characters flawlessly.

The overall plot was very dramatic - being told in the point-of-view of miss Jessilyn at the age of 13, the twists and turns the plot took were gut wrenching, but sometimes expected.  Each chapter was well thought out and the real plans and members of the KKK didn't emerge until the very end.  The story also reminded me of Out Of The Dust, another exceptional novel told by a strong, young women growing up in the depression and dealing with difficult people.  This novel could easily become another classic book about the depression, racial tension and how difficult it was for even the children to face.

Why 3 stars?  The overall plot rose and fell like any true novel; however, the ending really lacked something.  I never found out more about Luke - even though it was hinted at and almost promised by previous text.  I almost felt like there could be a sequel, even though there isn't nor is there one planned.  It almost felt like the author ran out of pages or had to cut down the ending.  It was rushed in some aspects, and drawn out in others when it should have been the opposite.  I was overall disappointed with the ending, but really enjoyed the rest of the novel.

Happy review day!


Jennifer Valent said...

Thank you so much for reading Fireflies in December. I'm thrilled to hear that you found Jessilyn's family and friends engaging!

You were exactly right that I was leaving room for sequels, and I'm so sorry you didn't find the information about them. If you'd like to continue Jessie's story you can read more about it in the next book Cottonwood Whispers. And her story concludes (at least for us!) in Catching Moondrops. If you decide to read them, I truly hope you enjoy them!

Thank you again for reading and for sharing the book on your blog!

Jason said...

The book definitely sounds interesting. It might actually be a book that I'm interested in. I appreciate your thoughtful review.

HilyBee said...

Jennifer - Thank you so much for the information! That's exciting!! :D

Jason - I definitely recommend it!