Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart follows the trials of a young girl, Sammie Tucker, in her hometown of Graham Camp, Texas. Set in 1958, Sammie’s summer is turned upside down after she discovers that her mother is mentally ill and needs to spend a few weeks in a sanitarium. All Sammie wants is to write and have a normal mother who loves her, but as tragedy surrounds her and her family, she finds more questions than answers.
Stewart writes in a simple way that takes readers back to the late ‘50s. Her use of dialect and slang pulls readers into the story and makes the characters even more realistic. Chasing Lilacs is full of characters who both intrigue and disgust us. Some, such as Mrs. Gray, will delight readers, whereas others, such as Aunt Vadine, will anger and appall readers. The whole spectrum of human emotion is wonderfully portrayed in the inhabitants of Graham Camp, and each character has a lesson to offer readers.
As problem after problem buffets young Sammie, she begins to find herself asking questions she’d never thought about before: Is she somehow responsible? Does Mama really love her? How could Mama fail her like this? Can she trust anyone? Sammie must struggle to answer these questions herself, since Mama can’t help her anymore. The verse Matthew 7:7, which says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” haunts her as she attempts to move on with her life. What was Mama trying to tell her with this verse, and is God trustworthy enough to handle all her problems? One thing is for certain: Sammie has a lot of asking and seeking to do.
Chasing Lilacs is a great book for preteen to early teenagers, especially girls. Readers will laugh and cry along with Sammie and her friends and will remain interested until the very last page. There’s enough mystery and intrigue in Graham Camp to satisfy even the most skeptical of readers. Carla Stewart has done a great job of presenting biblical truths from a fun and creative perspective. – Sarah Sawicki, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her. When her mother commits suicide and a not-so-favorite aunt arrives, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past. Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.