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Friday, January 21, 2011

Boy, Howdy I Loved Cold Sassy Tree

I finally finished Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, and boy, howdy, was it as good as sunshine after a week of rain. It's a coming-of-age story of a 14-year-old boy, Will Tweedy, living in the small town of Cold Sassy Tree, Georgia at the turn of the century. Thick with Georgia drawl, the book is rich with social norms of the time, race relations and religion and reverence (there's a huge difference).

The boy's outspoken and unconventional grandfather is the backbone of the story and the town. The story opens as the grandfather's wife dies, and marries a woman half his age only a few weeks later. This is the beginning of change in Will's life and many adventures about love, life and death follow.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"But to mourn, that's different. To mourn is to be eaten alive with homesickness for the person." 
"'Ask and it shall be given you,'" I began. "'Seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.' We have the same message in the Book of Saint John," I said, sounding for all the world like a preacher...."  
Well, but how could I just stop there? Those words were worse than nothing if I didn't tell what they meant to Grandpa. Looking at the long rough box, I spoke timid, in a mumbled voice. Not preachified at all. 'Grandpa didn't think Jesus meant, by that, that we should ast God for things, or for special favors. He said we could trust that in the nature of things, without astin', we'll get lots of blessin's and happy surprises and maybe a miracle or two. When Jesus said ast and you'll get it, He meant things of the spirit, not the flesh. Right now for instance, I could ast, 'Lord please raise Grandpa from the dead,' but it wouldn't happen. But I can say, 'Please, God, comfort me,' and I'll get heart's ease. Grandpa said Jesus meant us to ast for hope, forgiveness, and all that. Ast, 'Hep us not be scared, hep us not be greedy, give us courage to try.' I was really carried away. "Ast any such and God will give it to you. But don't ast Him not to let fire burn, or say spare me from death. At least, uh, that's what Grandpa said." 
This book is reminiscent of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and William Faulkner's work, without the lingering sense of despair. Burns wrote a follow-up book Leaving Cold Sassy, the Unfinished Sequel to Cold Sassy Tree.

So, what are you reading these days?

Other book reviews by me:
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith
Thanatos Syndrome by Walker Percy
Fifth Born by Zelda Lockhart
The Mitford Years by Jan Karon


  1. Have you ever read the Last Sin Eater? I read it years ago, but apparently there is a movie coming out now.

    Not reading much right now, other than school stuff with the girls and other blogs. I'm getting ready for the Write2ignite conference and need to keep its website updated. Lots of work!

  2. I haven't read that. I'll check it out. Hope the conference goes well!