3 out of 4 stars
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Lea Ann Vandygriff takes us on a journey into a small, Southern town in Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence. The book begins in the small, ranching town of Rhinehart. Everyone knows each other and helps each other in times of need. The main character is an 8th grader, Aubree. Her brother, Randy, and their parents, Clyde and Dolores, are a central part of the book.
We follow the struggles and joys of young Aubree and her friends and family as they weather life's storms including a disastrous tornado, a case of abuse and a pair of brothers that brings chaos to this quiet, little town. Aubree and the young teens in this town mourn the loss of innocence and begin to ask the hard question "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?"
The author takes us to a time and place where people know their neighbors and help each other in times of need. The town of Rhinehart sticks together in good times and in bad times. Although no specific time period is mentioned, Ms Vandygriff is descriptive when writing about the small, country town and its inhabitants. I could feel the wind on my face and the dirt beneath my feet as these down-to-earth people went about their daily activities.
The book contains a religious theme and includes blessings before meals, the church as an integral part of the entire community and reaching for God in times of need. Each chapter begins with a verse from the Bible. I found this to be refreshing and a nice way to introduce each chapter.
The author uses a wide variety of characters ranging from sweet, innocent Aubree to the violent, town drunk. The main characters are well-developed, while the secondary characters lend depth to the story. They all tie together to show the joys and disappointments in a small town.
I won't give away spoilers, but there were a couple of topics that could have been expanded upon and dealt with more completely. They didn't seem to be handled the way they actually would be in today's society.
Also, there were quite a few grammatical errors. The book would benefit from a more thorough professional editing.
Other than the above cons, I enjoyed this book. I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. Anyone who enjoys a good, clean story with religious threads throughout will enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel to this book.
Seasons Once Upon My Innocence
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