Reviews for Gentle's Holler
Booklist Reviews 2005 March #1
Gr. 5-8. Livy Two, named for her deceased sister Olivia, is one of nine siblings living in the North Carolina mountains during the 1960s. With her head-in-the-clouds, banjo-playing father and an overworked, perpetually pregnant mother, Livy Two assumes many of the child-care and household responsibilities. Still, she has time to dream of future travels, a home of her own, and her own country-music hits. Her worry over blind little sister Gentle dampens her dreams, but she finds creative solutions with the family's minimal resources. In spite of the poverty and hardships, this is a family story that's full of love and delight. The parents have a visible, strong, working marriage, something often ignored in children's books. Their love and acceptance keep the children secure, even in their hunger, and gradually smoothes extended family members' rough edges. Taken individually, these characters are very human, but together they form a strong unit that will help readers understand what it means to be a family. ((Reviewed March 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2005 February #2
In her debut for young readers, Madden creates a warmhearted, compelling family drama about the Weems, circa early 1960s. They grow up poor in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, move often and settle in Maggie Valley, a "holler" filled with honeysuckle and wildflowers. Told from the keen-eyed point of view of 11-year-old Livy Two, one of nine children (the tenth, Livy One, died at birth), the story is layered with details of their mountain life, their struggles, crises and day-to-day moments of joy: "I get my songwriting from Daddy, who plans on selling a banjo hit any day now, so we can eat regular." And there's humor too. Livy Two is a dreamer, a reader, songwriter/guitar player; she has "an itch in [her] bones to visit exotic lands," and when it comes to her family, especially her three-year-old sister Gentle, who is diagnosed as blind, she's a resourceful and generous problem-solver. Though some of the plot elements strain credibility, the graceful, spirited and, above all, sensory richness of the writing make this work stand out. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 March #4
At the center of Madden's (Offsides, for adults) tender novel (her first for children) about a poor and loving family in the mountains of 1960s North Carolina, is 11-year old "Livy Two." The third and perhaps most spirited of the children, Livy Two, who narrates, is charged with taking care of her three-year-old blind sister, Gentle. The first Olivia died at birth and Livy Two often prays to her for solace. Her older brother, Emmett, is feeling tension with his father, Tom, and is getting restless to move on. Meanwhile Tom hopes to make it by selling a hit song in Nashville and her mother, Jessie, works to keep the family of 10 fed and clothed. Livy Two replays all the sweet and sad moments of family life on the guitar with her own songs, such as when she overhears one of her sisters quietly describing color to Gentle: "Eat this blueberry and you'll understand the color blue." Just when things start to look up-Tom lands a job on a local TV show, and he and Livy Two plan to perform at a local concert-tragedy hits and the family digs even deeper for the grace and strength to heal differences and go on. Along with an assortment of affecting family members-particularly Grandma Horace with her collection of glass eyes, and Uncle Hazard the dog-Livy Two will burrow deeply into the hearts of young readers. Ages 9-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 April #3
Gentle's Holler Kerry Madden. Puffin, $6.99 ISBN 978-0-14-240751-6. According to PW, 11-year old narrator Livy-Two "will burrow deeply into the hearts of young readers," as she tells of her family's strengths and struggles in the mountains of 1960s South Carolina. Ages 9-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2005 June
Gr 6-8-A family story set in the North Carolina hills during the 1960s. With a father who chases a seemingly impossible dream and a homemaker mother who tries to compensate by multitasking, 12-year-old Livy Two wonders if she will ever get to see the world she's been introduced to via her schoolbooks and the bookmobile. She is distressed to learn that her 14-year-old brother plans to run away to find a job; her three-year-old sister, Gentle, is blind; another baby is on the way; and her cranky (although ultimately wise) grandmother is turning a visit into a long stay. Daily worry and struggle wear Livy down until she begins to express anger and frustration over the brother who has left (but does send money back home) and the librarian who at first cannot produce materials for Gentle. When an accident places her father in a coma, Livy begins to reconsider her feelings. Madden's characters are endearing, even when they are stubborn. The differing opinions that Livy's parents express display both normal friction and love. Grandma becomes the family's center of strength, and Uncle Hazard, the family dog, provides humor. Women in professional roles and references to the Civil Rights movement tie the story to national events. Livy's narration rings true and is wonderfully voiced, and Madden's message about the importance of forgiveness will be well received.-Cindy Darling Codell, formerly at Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.