The Scent of Lilacs
by Ann H. Gabhart
The Heart of Hollyhill, Book One
About the Book: After the summer of 1964, life for Jocie Brooke will never be the same.
Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story from bestselling author Ann Gabhart explores the very essence of new life and love.
This is a re-release of this novel that was originally published in 2005.
About the Author: Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including Angel Sister, Words Spoken True, The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Find out more at www.annhgabhart.com.
One of the things that I have discovered about Ann H. Gabhart as an author is her ability to create a character-driven story that doesn't get bogged down. Character development as a plot-moving mechanism is not always my favorite in Christian fiction novels because it has to be done really, really well to keep it from getting boring.
But as with the previous novel that I read by this author - Angel Sister - you don't have to worry about it getting boring at all!
What struck me most about this novel was how the characters were so real and just seemed to leap right off the page. I cared about them and felt as if I somehow knew them. I also really identified with Jocie, the 13-year-old main character. While so many of the girls she knew were obsessed with boys and clothes and make-up, she would rather ride her bike and walk in the woods and play with her dog. I was much the same when I was that age - I would rather ride my bike or read a book than be all caught in the latest music craze or fashion style.
As I said before, even though this novel is character-focused, it is never boring. The comments from the characters about a small Southern town, families, Baptist churches, and about one character supposedly being from Jupiter were endearing and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. I especially enjoyed when they would talk about Vacation Bible School. My husband and I are in charge of VBS at our church, and some of those quips were hilarious.
There is a lot of action in this novel as well. The secrets that are revealed throughout kept me guessing and wanting to know more. However, I thought some of the secrets ended up being a bit too much. I won't reveal anything here, but one in particular was so hard for me to read and to imagine that it actually made me put the book down for a couple of days. The author did a great job portraying that emotion, but the thought of what might have happened actually decreased my overall enjoyment of the book.
I also was disappointed at the end of the novel when it seemed as if not everything was completely resolved. Then I realized that there are two more books in the series. So, I am OK with that. I'll just have to read the next ones, too.
I will give Scent of Lilacs ... 3 ½ BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."