Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review: Miss Dreamsville And The Collier County Women's Literary Society

Author: Amy Hill Hearth
Title: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: Oct 2, 2012
Buy: Amazon
Review Copy Provided By: Net Galley
Book Blurb: Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962. With humor and insight the novel chronicles the awkward North-South cultural divide as Jackie, this hapless but charming “Yankee,” looks for some excitement in her life by accepting an opportunity to host a local radio show where she creates a mysterious, late-night persona, “Miss Dreamsville,” and by launching a reading group—the Collier County Women’s Literary Society—thus sending the conservative and racially segregated town into uproar. The only townspeople who venture to join are regarded as outsiders at best—a young gay man, a divorced woman, a poet, and a young black woman who dreams of going to college. This brilliant fiction debut by Amy Hill Hearth, a New York Times bestselling author, brings to life unforgettable characters who found the one thing that eluded them as individuals:a place in the world. Inspired by a real person, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society will touch the heart of anyone and everyone who has ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.

Review: This book could be described as The Help lite. But it is more than a book that deals with issues facing African Americans in the 1960s. No, it is about social reform, about finding yourself, and making the world better. It also reminds us that big changes often bring big hurdles to overcome.

The characters are all misfits, but lovable misfits. The story is told through the eyes of Dora, a post office employee and divorcee. This is something that is looked down upon in the small Florida town of Naples. Dora also helps heal turtles, giving her the name Turtle Lady.

Each of the other characters bring about something different to the table, Ronnie-Lee is a homosexual with a mother that hunts alligators.

Plain Jane is a writer,  hiding her identity and what she writes from everyone.

Priscilla is the young colored girl with big dreams

But most importantly there's Jackie who shakes everything up, starting the literary society, becoming Miss Dreamsville and taking on the KKK in a most unusual way. (That part of the book, is by far the best in the story)

This is Amy's debut novel and it is a shining star. It gives everyone hope that things can change, and sometimes it only takes one person to get the ball rolling.

One thing I've personally learned through reading books about the south in this time period is that I'm totally ashamed of how we allowed people to be treated because of their skin color. It is even sadder that 50 years later, some people's views haven't changed.

This was a great book and a super fast read. Once you start it you can't put it down!

Rating:  5 flowers


Jen C said...

Loved this book!!! Very colorful characters!

Beatnik Mary said...

I'm in LOVE with your blog. It's so pretty and SO well organized! I particularly like the "nuts and bolts" information at the top of the review. I might have to borrow that idea for my own blog, as I also review a lot of pre-publication books and it's helpful to include the date the book is available.

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