From award-winning author Cathy Gohlke, whose novels have been called “haunting” (Library Journal on Saving Amelie) and “page-turning” (Francine Rivers on Secrets She Kept), comes a historical fiction story of courage and transformation set in rural Appalachia on the eve of WWII.
When Lilliana Swope’s beloved mother dies, Lilliana gathers her last ounce of courage and flees her abusive husband for the home of her only living relative in the foothills of No Creek, North Carolina. Though Hyacinth Belvidere hasn’t seen Lilliana since she was five, she offers her cherished great-niece a safe harbor. Their joyful reunion inspires plans to revive Aunt Hyacinth’s estate and open a public library where everyone is welcome, no matter the color of their skin.
Slowly Lilliana finds revival and friendship in No Creek—with precocious eleven-year-old Celia Percy, with kindhearted Reverend Jesse Willard, and with Ruby Lynne Wishon, a young woman whose secrets could destroy both them and the town. When the plans for the library also incite the wrath of the Klan, the dangers of Lilliana’s past and present threaten to topple her before she’s learned to stand.
With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t.
Gohlke (Secrets She Kept) delivers a gripping story about the trauma of domestic and church abuse set in 1941 Appalachia. Lilliana Grace Swope flees Philadelphia and her abusive husband and father, both leaders in their local congregation who use their positions to justify physical and emotional abuse, after her mother's death. She heads to her great-aunt Hyacinth Belvidere's home in tiny No Creek, N.C., and soon learns of Hyacinth's health troubles and her plan to will Lilliana her estate. As Lilliana becomes part of the community, she sees the effects of racism, violence, gossip, and hidden sexual abuse; she also begins to stand up for herself, see herself as God sees her, and defend those hurt by racism and sexism by opening Hyacinth's home and large library to all. But as Hyacinth becomes increasingly blind and frail, Lilliana's husband shows up looking to position himself to profit from Lilliana's inheritance, and Lilliana must find the courage to thwart his scheme to divorce her to keep control of the estate. Gohlke creates a cast readers will love, and the strong themes of the bonds of family forged outside one's kin resonate. The author's fans will love this. \n