Book Review: The Story Keeper

25 Jul

386898Successful New York editor, Jen Gibbs, is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing — until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, Jen finds herself drawn into the life of Sarra, a mixed-race Melungeon girl trapped by dangerous men in the turn of the century Appalachia. A risky hunch may lead to The Story Keeper’s hidden origins and its unknown author, but when the trail turns toward the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a place Jen thought she’d left behind forever, the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she’s willing to pay.


lisawingatepubpicLisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of 16 books. Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its fifteenth printing from Penguin Putnam. Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010). In 2011, Lisa’s Novel, Never Say Never, won the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, in mainstream fiction. Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational southern fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.


My Impressions:

What a great experience I had being a part of Lisa Wingate’s Sisterhood of The Traveling Book. I was chosen to be a part of a group that read Lisa’s newest book The Story Keeper, due out in September.  Sharing insights and stories of our own, we passed the book around. My group is still in the process of reading and reflecting before the book heads back to Lisa in Texas. And while the Sisterhood is certainly special, The Story Keeper is a novel that you will not want to miss.

Jenn Gibbs left her Appalachian roots behind when she moved to New York to pursue a career in publishing. When she takes a new job with Vida House, a mysterious manuscript from the infamous slush pile appears on her desk and she is swept into an intriguing story and again forced to revisit the haunts of her childhood. An elusive author and her demanding family keep Jenn in North Carolina longer than she would like, but she soon discovers that you cannot really escape your past.

Two stories in one kept me turning the pages of The Story Keeper. I was impressed with the many voices that Lisa employed in telling the stories. Lisa masterfully brings to life the places and peoples of Appalachia. Her characters are real and relatable, even Jenn’s sisters who live a life dedicated to a conservative Christian cult. I loved the theme of lives being a compilation of many stories.

The Story Keeper releases on September 1, so be sure to keep a watch out for it. You can pre-order it from Amazon too.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

(Thanks to Lisa Wingate for the opportunity to read this book. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

To pre-order The Story Keeper, click on the image below.

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