Teen author Coker’s blend of inspirational romance and historical fiction results in a predictable yet mostly satisfying debut.
When not caring for her single, ill mother at their Tennessee home in 1939, 14-year-old Alcyone (named for a star in the Taurus constellation), or simply Allie, is followed longingly by classmate Sam. After her mother’s death, the teen moves to Maine, where she’s adopted by prim Miss Beatrice, a Christian woman fond of clichés. She refuses to consider Beatrice family or to follow her to church, since her Christian father abandoned her mother. Instead, she deals with her grief by turning to Emily Dickinson poems (which introduce each chapter), her journal and dreams of writing professionally. Except that Allie has become an even more bitter and reserved teenager, not much has changed when the text skips ahead to 1943. Only the surprise arrival of Sam at a garden party has the power to jolt Allie out of her ongoing mourning. Their playful banter, as Allie tries not to fall for Sam and Sam tries not to scare her off with his abiding love, is the highlight of the novel. A few lapses in accuracy and consistency don’t detract from Allie’s coming of age. While Sam enlists in the war, Allie rethinks (albeit too tidily) her relationships with God and Beatrice.
A feel-good story for both heart and soul. (Christian fiction. 12-18)