Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Southern Charmer: Tupelo Honey
Now available as Kindle
Tupelo Honey will tug at your heartstrings and sing off the pages. Set in the 1970s in a small Southern town, the story of young Tupelo begins with a picture of her daily existence. Tupelo's home life can only be described as broken and painful. Her mother is a wretched, broken, mean drug addict with a salty mouth and she shows Tupelo no motherly love but instead inflicting intense abuse--both physical and mental. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. Mother's then boyfriend Nash is charming and sweet to Tupelo and believes in her. He becomes a constant in her life even though her crazy mother continues to push him away. Eventually Nash is lost to Tupelo when her mother grabs her and takes a "vacation" to California. Tupelo is homesick and using her wits figures out a way to trick a cop into sending her home. What Tupelo lacks in parents, she makes up in moxie.
Another coping mechanism is the existence of Moochi, Tupelo's imaginary dog/man friend who helps her out in tight situations. Tupelo is able to hold conversations with him and he gives her good advice and ideas.
Grandmother Marmalade does all she can for her granddaughter--taking her in when her own daughter has a bout with drugs or booze. Marmalade has her hands full with her two grown sons. Mental illness cuts a large swath in this family with both of Tupelo's uncles suffering from possible schizophrenia.
Readers will love Tupelo and empathize with her struggles to find a home and be loved. Through heartbreak, pain, fair, loss, desperation, Tupelo never loses her enthusiastic voice. Tupelo Honey is a wonderful book that teaches us many lessons about love and family. It is a shame that it contains profanity which may keep it off of middle grade and middle school lists. I understand the use of the profanity. It is used primarily by Tupelo's drugged out, no good mother.
Readers will cheer for Tupelo as she navigates the problem adults which seem to plague her life. When she sees Nash again I wanted to jump up and down for her! This is one book that proves that although you can't choose your family, you can choose where you belong.
Highly recommended grade 5-up with warning of profanity, drug abuse, violence.