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Gail Ylitalo

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Blackberry Summer
by Gail Ylitalo   

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Books by Gail Ylitalo
· Then Said Solomon
· Convoluted Ramblings
· Sunday's Rose
· Ugly Opal
· Auntie
                >> View all



Publisher:  Lulu Publishing ISBN-10:  0557751799 Type: 


Copyright:  2003 ISBN-13:  9780557751792

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Writings Of Gail Ylitalo

The summer of 1965 changes the lives of two children in such a way that they will never look at life through the eyes of innocence again. Carol Lynn and her cousin Tom are spending the summer with their grandmother on her farm in rural Virginia. It's a quiet little place hiding the secrets, stories, and gossip the darker side of people entertain. It doesn't take the children long to become fascinated by the Horten family living near their grandmother. It's Carol Lynn's burning interest in the Horten family that leads them to trespass on their property. She wants to know the secret of the pond. It's on one of these forays that she meets Horten's stepdaughter, Clovie, a pitiful waif who longs to learn how to read. When Carol Lynn makes friends with the girl, it sets in motion events past and present that expose deception, incest, murder, suicide, and infanticide. When the truth is discovered, those involved are changed forever. The startling conclusion will take many by surprise.


"Easter always stirs up my emotions.I blame it on the warm Virginia springs or the sudden dread that the world is rapidly fading and what I hold dear will be lost forever. At least that's what I told myself back then. It was a strange time for me as I completed my tenth year on this planet. My father had long since marched away from our dilapidated cottage. Mama took whatever work she could find, and some of this work had to do with men. I figured out early that life required compromise, and in the south, women did a lot of compromising. Easter of 1965 was the beginning of my approaching maturity. I knew all about sex and that there had never been an Easter Bunny or a Santa Claus. Santa Claus was easy to figure out. We had no money for extras so nothing was under the tree, but I really did want to believe in the Easter Bunny. Somehow when you're ten years old you want to cling to something and I wasn't ready for Jesus...but my grandmother came in one day like a clap of thunder to proclaim my salvation."

Professional Reviews

Blackberry Summer
"Blackberry Summer" is a hot one. In Gail Ylitalo's book, "Blackberry Summer," life heated up during Carol Lynn's 10th summer. Sent to spend a season with her nurturing grandmother, Carol is curious about the poverty-stricken Horton clan living on the next farm. She thinks she saw them burying something at the pond the previous summer. Her grandmother forbids her to investigate, or even to leave the 60-acre farm. Later, when she has the opportunity to teach 13-year-old Clovie Horton how to read, Carol's imagination and self-esteem soar. Clovie is incredibly adept and in a few weeks, she reads better than her teacher. Impressed, Carol's grandmother agrees to help Clovie get a library card. She seems to be doing so well. Carol knows that Clovie's father is abusive and her mother drinks, but she seems to be concealing a deeper, more mysterious secret. Little does Carol realize how deep Clovie's misery goes. The story started simply, showing a slow, Southern summer. Right and wrong were black and white. After Carol and Clovie's trip to the library, however, events escalated rapidly. Carol learned how quickly things could turn as she found herself under suspicion for a murder she did not commit. With this turn of events, deeper layers of fear, frustration and complexity rapidly grabbed my interest. Black and white was replaced by shades of gray. An author's style should fit the subject matter. Ylitalo's style reflects her protagonist's growth. When the child is simple, so are her words. As more and more is heaped on her, the style becomes more sophisticated. Early in the book I was not always sure if I was reading the words of a child or the memories of an adult. By the end, either it was clear or it no longer mattered. Despite Clovie's difficulties, this story renewed my faith in nurturing and in having a safe place to call home. If you are interested in psychological truth, family secrets and reflections, mixed with action, adventure and the unexpected, check out "Blackberry Summer." B. Lynn Goodman for Inscriptions Magazine

Blackberry Summer
Set around Easter of 1965 in Virginia. Carol Lynn was ten years old. She was to spend her second Summer at Grandmother's farm. Carol's younger cousin, Tom, went with her this time. It was the Summer that would force them to grow up. The Horten family lived nearby. Everyone looked away from the couple and the thirteen year old with them named Clovie. Clovie and Carol became close friends, but Clovie was an abused child and had more dark secrets than anyone would ever have guessed! Secrets that had killed before and would again! I recommend this one for ages 13 and up only! It has mystery, excitement, danger, and many surprises! I believe it especially great for teens! Author, Gail Ylitalo, created a wonderful story that will remain in your memory long after you have finished reading it. HUNTRESS BOOK REVIEWS, Reviewed by Detra Fitch

Blackberry Summer
BLACKBERRY SUMMER by Gail Ylitalo is a haunting coming of age story that both fascinates and repels; yet I couldn't put it down till the end. During the days I read this novel, I found myself thinking back to it at odd moments, making me reflect, question, and meditate upon the difficulties of growing up. Indeed, BLACKBERRY SUMMER is of those rare, powerful novels that I will never be able to quite forget. The summer of 1965 forever changes the lives of three children, brought together by their common family difficulties. Cousins Carol Lynn and Tom spend the summer on their grandmother's sixty-acre farm. While trespassing at a nearby pond, they meet Clovie, a child only a couple of years older, but wise beyond her years with life experience. At Clovie's request, Carol Lynn undertakes to teach her to read. Daily they meet at the pond, as Clovie learns to read and write, hungry for a life away from her destitute, horribly abusive conditions. Bruised, filthy, sexually abused, Clovie is a pitiful waif who's burgeoning knowledge brings her hope. Eventually, Carol Lynn takes Clovie to the library, to receive her own library card, for the days when Carol Lynn must return to the city. When Clovie's father discovers the girls on the road back from the library, danger and disaster await. When the truth is known, neither Carol Lynn or her cousin Tom will retain even a remnant of their childhood innocence. But within that lost innocence is also beauty. Carol Lynn comes to understand the relationship between blacks and whites in her small town. And when she recognizes the strong feelings between her grandmother and the black man who cares for her property, Carol Lynn exhibits the same loving tolerance and understanding toward that relationship that she exhibited toward Clovie. Like the wild blackberries of my childhood summers, I found BLACKBERRY SUMMER bittersweet. And as I couldn't stop eating the blackberries in my grandmother's backyard, no matter the scratches, I couldn't stop reading this novel. My teenage son also read this book for review purposes, finding it compelling and thought provoking. We both were impressed with Gail's straightforward handling of violence and abuse, all the while tempering the negative with open-mindedness and compassion. Cindy Penn, Word Weaving

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Reader Reviews for "Blackberry Summer"

Reviewed by Whitney 9/12/2002
The book was really good! It held my attention throughout the whole thing and i would recommend it to anyone! Good Job Gail!
Reviewed by Kara 10/23/2001
I really enjoyed this book and shared it with my class.
Reviewed by Joy 9/24/2001
I couldn't put this book down!!!
Reviewed by emerald 9/18/2001
A friend told me about this book. It was a great read! I think we can all learn from this story!
Reviewed by Whitney Barker 9/18/2001
My mom bought me the ebook and it was great! I shared it with my class!

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