Book Review: The Book Of Polly

The Book of Polly, a novel by Kathy Hepinstall.
Set for release March 14, 2017; $26.00 US ($35.00 CAN)

After unwrapping the plain brown packaging, I looked with trepidation at the cover of the next book in my Blind Date with a Book series.  A blurry image of a perfectly appointed southern woman holding a garden trowel and sporting a falcon on her shoulder stared up at me.  I’d been burned on blind dates before and feared I was in for another scorching.  Figuring I may as well get on with it, I opened the book to page one and began to read.

By page seven I was hooked, laughing so hard that tears came to my eyes, eager for more.  As the book progressed I was introduced to hazards of Havens family, their personal shortcomings, and neighborhood feuds.

The Book of Polly is told from the point of view of Willow Havens, a laggard child born when Polly was fifty-eight years old, and who is terrified of her mother’s mortality.  Upon learning that she was pregnant with Willow the book states, “The doctor advised her to terminate the pregnancy.  She advised the doctor to drop dead and mind his own business.”

All children are embarrassed by their parents.  For Willow, growing up in a single-parent household with a mother who is a spit-fire southern woman old enough to be her grandmother, who defends her garden from varmints with a shot-gun, sets her deceased father’s boat ablaze in the driveway, accidentally kills one of the neighbors with a squirrel zapper, flips people off with her toes, and is overly fond of margaritas presents a unique challenge.  As Willow puts it, “I had told some lies—and even worse, some truths—about my mother to my classmates.”

Kathy Hepinstall mixes hilarity with the seriousness of surviving in a dysfunctional family.  Alcoholism, divorce, self-righteous religiosity, cancer, and our own fragile mortality rear their ugly heads as Willow attempts to navigate her adolescence.  My tears of laughter turned to tears of sorrow and then tears of joy as the book ended on a triumphant note.

I highly recommend The Book of Polly; it is a delightful read with wide appeal.  From the Deep South to the Inland Northwest, whether you are fifteen or in your fifties, everyone can relate to loving a difficult, and possibly crazy, family member.

This review was completed using an advance copy of uncorrected proofs.

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