THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET by Donna Everhart
“Readers will find The Road to Bittersweet to be a lovingly crafted coming-of-age novel set in the unforgiving Carolina hills. Everhart understands the mindset of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood as her world fills with hardship, betrayal, and the wonderment of growing up. Readers will be struck by how beautifully Everhart captures the dialect of her well-drawn characters and the landscape – both harsh and beautiful. Here is a story that tugs at the heartstrings with its believability and evocative prose, leaving readers believing there is always hope when a family stands together.”- RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Everhart (The Education of Dixie Dupree, 2016) is a good storyteller and makes her characters and their experiences come alive.” Booklist
I loved this book! I won a signed copy of Donna Everhart’s The Road to Bittersweet from the facebook group A Novel Bee, no strings attached. I enjoyed this novel so much, I asked Donna if she would come and chat with us a bit.
If you like coming of age stories with a strong voice, you should check out Donna’s work. I think The Road to Bittersweet is a great selection for book clubs.
~ GIVE AWAY ~ GIVE AWAY ~ GIVE AWAY! ~
I thought you guys might like this book, so I decided to GIVE AWAY a kindle copy. Details below.
Listen to The Pretty One by Pam Tillis, written about the book, The Road to Bittersweet.
As a reader, I seem to be drawn to historical settings. The Road to Bittersweet is set in the 1940s. Have you always been interested in that particular time in history?
Not so much 1940 in of itself, but really anything from the 70s or earlier. For instance, all of my books take place in the 40s, 50s or 60s. I like writing about those times because while there were complex issues going on relative to what might have been in the news, lifestyles were much simpler than today. For example, there were two, maybe three channels on TV to watch, and TV was the only medium – compared to the hundreds of channels today, plus we have all of these various devices on which we can watch those hundreds of shows. Here’s another one – Oreos. It’s a strange example, but an Oreo cookie used to be this one type of cookie, dark chocolate wafer with a cream filling. Then came Double Stuff. Then came vanilla wafers. Then mint flavored filling. Then colors for holidays. Just the other day I saw . . . Cherry Cola flavored. I bet there might be fifteen varieties of the Oreo cookie now. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
I love Wallis Ann’s resilience and grit. Where did you find the inspiration for her character?
Partly it came from books I’ve read where hardship was overcome through sheer will and determination. For instance, some of my favorite characters who are similar to Wallis Ann would be Julie Harmon from Robert Morgan’s GAP CREEK, or Ruby and Ada in Charles Frazier’s COLD MOUNTAIN. They were confronted by what seem like impossible situations, yet managed to overcome it by working hard, and keeping an attitude of persistence. So, Wallis Ann certainly came from the influence of those stories, plus my own desire to create characters people can relate to and admire for their endurance and fortitude. I would also say there’s a bit of me in these characters I write about, because I’m always thinking, how would I react? What would I do? Would I do this – or not? Etc. etc. Also, there is nothing better, in my opinion, than to have readers come away from a story feeling wrung out, yet happy with how it all turned out.
When you were researching for this book, what historical tidbit or event did you find most interesting?
Some years ago my husband and I hiked to a historic cabin in Doughton Park, NC off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The structure survived the 1916 Basin Cove flood, and this cabin was the impetus for the story. The family that lived there consisted of eight people, two adults and six children, and it was fascinating to know how they lived and thrived there before the flood. It was a very rustic cabin, no bigger than about three hundred square feet. The closest town was eight miles away. They were true survivalists, killing for meat, growing vegetables and fruit trees, hauling water, chopping wood, preserving foods, sewing their own clothes, milking cows, and on and on. Their job was never-ending, but they were used to that hardscrabble life. And yet, I could see how a flood would be an incentive to leave because all they’d worked for would be gone. How would they expect to get back to where they’d been? What if they’d stayed? Could they have recovered? It was interesting to explore these questions.
What life lesson did you learn while writing your novel?
I had no idea where this story was headed at times, or what I was doing, but I kept at it, persevering like Wallis Ann. In a nutshell, perseverance is a wonderful thing – as long as you know when to try a different approach if something isn’t working and don’t beat yourself up over it if the goal you intended to reach shifts – or changes altogether.
What are you working on now?
Well, my third book is done. It’s a story that takes place in 1955, on a cotton farm in Jones County, NC. All of my books are coming of age stories, and my main character in this one is a twelve year old girl named Sonny Creech, a girl who loves cotton farming, her family’s land, and knows how to divine water. After a tragedy, she and her family become entangled with a reclusive, bigoted neighbor. I’m really excited about that story. It’s in the production phase, meaning I’ve already been through the copy editing part. I’ll soon receive page proofs, the final step before it goes to print. The title is THE FORGIVING KIND and it’ll be out in February of 2019.
My newest project is in the really (I mean REALLY) ugly first draft stage. This story’s main character is sixteen year old Jessie Sasser and she’s quite unhappy with her lot in life. Born into a family legacy of moonshining, she wants no part of it because she’s certain this is what killed her mother. So far, I’m having fun with it, while trying not to pull my hair out.
Donna Everhart is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories of family hardship and troubled times in a bygone south. A native of North Carolina, she resides in her home state with her husband and their tiny heart stealing Yorkshire terrier, Mister. Readers can visit her at www.donnaeverhart.com.
Thank you for visiting with us, Donna! I can’t wait to read The Forgiving Kind.
Giveaway Time! I am giving away one kindle copy of The Road to Bittersweet. Click here to go to the entry form.
Here’s a question for my readers. I love coming of age stories. What’s your favorite coming of age novel? Do you have one you recommend?