Congratulations to last week’s winner of Whisper on the Wind:
Peggy Reu of Carol Stream, IL!
What’s significant about 10.1.10?
Today is the official release of Catching Moondrops, the third work of historical fiction by award-winning novelist Jennifer Valent of Richmond, Virginia. It’s also the first time I am offering not one but THREE books for a Freebie Friday giveaway. Why? Read on…
In 2007, Jennifer Valent won the coveted Christian Writers Guild “Operation First Novel” contest for her debut work Fireflies in December, which is set in Depression-era Virginia. Fireflies traces the story of a young girl, Jessilyn Lassiter, whose world is turned upside down in the summer of 1932 when she turns 13. When Jessilyn’s best friend Gemma Teague loses her parents, Jessilyn’s father vows to care for Gemma as one of his own despite the fact that Gemma is black and prejudice is prevalent in their southern Virginia town. Violence springs up as a ragtag band of Ku Klux Klan members unite and decide to take matters into their own hands.
From the moment I picked up Fireflies and began to read, I understood why this novel won the Christian Writers Guild contest as well as the 2010 Christy award for First Novel.
As a writer, Valent has an unusually good ear for dialogue and authentic character development. She is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects including strong themes of inequality and racial injustice within a religious community.
Jessilyn’s faith is shaken when she stumbles upon a “prayer meeting” led by members of the KKK, and she pours out questions after taking refuge at the home of the Lassiter’s neighbor, Luke Talley.
“But what were they doin’? Why were they out there?”
“Ain’t no knowin’ why they do what they do. They were holdin’ a meetin’ of some sort, I guess.”
“They were prayin’. To God. But what my daddy said those people do ain’t God-fearin’.”
Luke leaned back in his chair and sighed. “They ain’t prayin’ to the God they think they’re prayin’ to. They don’t even know who God is.”
My daughter Amber, age 26, is an avid reader with an editor’s eye for good literature who generally prefers the classics. I shared Fireflies with her when it came out and Amber loved it. She literally couldn’t wait to read the sequel, Cottonwood Whispers, which builds on the growing romance between a maturing Jessilyn and Luke. And for months now Amber has been asking me when the third book in the trilogy will be available. As outstanding as the first two novels are, I personally think Catching Moondrops is even better. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I can tell you it kept me up way too late when I couldn’t stop reading.
Valent’s novels have also been acclaimed in the secular press. Fireflies won a coveted starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, which wrote: “Valent’s debut is both heartwarming and hand-writing…and the cast of characters is rich.”
Each novel – Fireflies in December and the sequels Cottonwood Whispers and Catching Moondrops – stands alone and is a satisfying work in its entirety. But I’m warning you, like my daughter Amber, once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read all three.
Leave a comment after this post and the entire set might be yours. Valent’s novels would also make the perfect gift for a young adult in your life who loves great fiction that reflects the grit and grace of real life.