Good Afternoon Everyone! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for this debut author! I was lucky enough to meet Tammy when I was a contractor where she works her day job, and had the pleasure seeing her almost every day of the work week for a little over a year. One day I overheard her talking about writing and as I writer myself I was nosy and butted into the conversation and learned that she wrote a book and was in the process of editing it and publishing it. We talked and I enthusiastically volunteered to help since I blog as well. I patiently waited as she worked through the process until I got contacted to be a part of the blog tour and was given a review copy. Unfortunately I couldn’t read it until recently because I was in college and I knew if I started the book all homework would be ignored. This book was worth the wait and I’m so happy to have finally read it and can share with all of you. So keep reading because you will want to add this one to your shopping cart!
Upon Stella Rose’s death, her best friend, Abby, moves to rural Vermont to take care of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Olivia. But Abby struggles to connect with Olivia and she soon finds guardianship of a headstrong teenager daunting beyond her wildest misgivings. Despite her best efforts, and the help of friends old and new, she is unable to keep Olivia from self-destruction. As Abby’s journey unfolds, she grapples with raising a grieving teenager, realizes she didn’t know Stella as well as she thought, and discovers just how far she will go to save the most precious thing in her life.
Stella Rose’s physical form has left the world, but her spirit is still everywhere. She leaves behind a daughter, Olivia, and many people who love her dearly. The story is narrated by Stella’s best friend, Abby, who takes on the responsibility of moving into Stella’s house to take care of Olivia.
The novel is divided into months, each section consisting of a season, and each chapter being a different month following the death of Stella Rose. Stella, who died of cancer managed to plan out the year following her death by writing letters and preparing gifts for Olivia and Abby. The rules are that they have to open them together and can only open the one designated per month. We follow through the stages of grief and watching these characters trying to continue their life with the help of Stella via the letters.
The pacing of the chapters and how they are split up into months is perfect. The author paints a beautiful picture of Vermont through all of the seasons, which I love as a Vermont resident. It is fun to recognize names of places as well as places I’ve never heard of or been to.
The characters feel very real and are imperfect as all humans. I think everyone will find ways in which they can relate to these characters and their struggles, especially anyone who has experienced loss.
The story is poignant, filled with such heart it seeps through every page. There is such honesty about life, love, friendship, loss, secrets and the mess of it all. So many passages of this novel hit me deeply, some just because of how closely I could relate to the situation, like becoming angry at the person who died, or because of the true lifelong friendships that existed. The friends in the novel were friends since childhood, and the relationship they have, I envy. I have some great friends, but the level of friendship in this novel is beautiful and I think rare.
I love, love, loved this novel. It is a fantastic well-crafted debut novel by Mrs. Hetrick, so grab a box of tissues and get a copy!
Tammy Flanders Hetrick has been telling stories all her life, refining her skills at age ten through marathon tag-team storytelling with her best friend, honing her craft through decades of business writing, and ultimately finding joy in extracurricular creative writing. She has published short stories in Your Teen Magazine, Blue Ocean Institute’s Sea Stories, and Route 7 Literary Journal. In 2009 she was recognized with the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition’s Pioneering Woman Award for coaching and mentoring women in the workplace. Hetrick lives in Vermont with her husband of thirty years, their two cats, and a beagle/miniature bull mix. Her website is http://www.tammyflandershetrick.com/.
Celtic Lady’s Reviews: April 21, 2015
A Literary Vacation: April 23, 2015
Broken Teepee: review, April 24, 2015
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus: April 27, 2015
Life of a Female Bibliophile: April 28, 2015
I’m A Book Shark: May 1, 2015
Electively Paige: review, May 4, 2015
Under My Apple Tree: May 7, 2015
Celtic Lady’s Reviews: May 12, 2015
Centered on Books: May 16, 2015
Christiecote.com: May 20, 2015
Christiesbookreviews.com: May 21, 2015