Jessie's Mountain
Kerry Madden
Viking, 2008
978-0-670-06154-9
(hardcover)

Jessie's Mountain

Review

Jessie’s Mountain is the third in Madden’s Maggie Valley trilogy. The first was Gentle’s Holler and the second was Louisana’s Song. They are all stand-alone books, but you would do yourself a great service to read all three.

The journey Madden has taken us on with Livy Two and her family has been exciting, humorous and poignant. She’s shown us a family who knows both poverty and love intimately. They work hard, love deeply and share a fierce passion for Maggie Valley.

In Jessie’s Mountain (named after the mother in the family), we once again visit Livy Two and her family. In a rare act of tenderness, Grandma Horace and Livy Two share a nighttime visit with each other. Grandma gives Livy Two her mother’s diary, one she wrote in the 1940s in Enka, North Carolina, before she married and had her children. The diary gives Livy Two an entirely new perspective on her mother. At first she doesn’t share anything with her siblings, but later begins reading passages to them.

Livy Two has experienced much love and much heartache in her twelve years. The family is poor and everyone helps keep the family afloat. Livy Two’s daddy has been sick since a car accident, and Grandma Horace wants to move the family back to Enka. Livy Two doesn’t want to leave Maggie Valley.

Livy Two, like her father, loves music. She’s torn about an important decision she must make. Should she run off to Nashville to audition for Mr. George Flowers? If she does make the trip, what will be the consequences? You have to read the book for these answers. No spoilers allowed.

I love Livy Two and her large, boisterous family. They are a breath of fresh air. As I said in my review of Gentle’s Holler, love and hope never take a vacation in Livy Two’s family. They are the kind of people you want to meet, get to know and have them stay awhile. Livy Two’s family accepts that they are poor, but also know that poverty is a situation and not about whom they are. They are wonderful proud people who are doing their best.

Armchair Interviews says: Kerry Madden’s Maggie Valley trilogy will become classics. They are that good.

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