Karen Hawkins will definitely be an author to follow! I loved her "childhood" introduction of the characters in The Book Charmer and cannot imagine a better way for readers to really get to know them so quickly, yet so well. And then to jump ahead eighteen years later when so many things have changed, yet stayed the same in the small Southern town of Dove Pond.
The book opens with Sarah Dove, and we find out early that books talk to her--yes, they carry on conversations with her, which of course she has to hide from others. We also learn she's a direct descendant of one of the town's founding fathers. She's the youngest sister of seven sisters in her family, and her favorite place to be is the library.
The next chapter introduces Grace Wheeler, a 10 year old girl who is in foster care with her 7 year old sister Hannah. Grace and Hannah have been moved in and out of foster homes several times already this school year, and Grace always takes the blame, even when she's really only protecting Hannah, but she never says anything as she doesn't think anyone will believe her. The social worker is giving the two girls one last chance together as a pair this school year, and she takes them to Mrs. Giana (Mama G), letting them know that if it doesn't work out, they'll be separated.
Skipping ahead to present-day in the third chapter, Grace has left behind a very lucrative, high-paying job in a large city and is moving to Dove Pond to take care of Mama G and Hannah's young daughter, Daisy, after Hannah's death. She's rented a house for them in one of the best sections of Dove Pond and surprisingly finds out that Sarah Dove now lives on the same street as she does, just one house over.
In the short portion of the book I was given to read, I was most impressed with the warmth that seemed to resonate from Ms. Hawkins' writing and the sincerity and caring among Grace, Mama G, and Daisy.
I'd love to finish this book!!!