I finished Sarah Addison Allen's First Frost last night and as I write this review, it occurs to me that I have several strong thoughts/opinions to share. But first, a bit of background: First Frost picks up the story of the Waverley sisters, Claire and Sydney, back home in Bascom, NC, living settled, mostly happy lives in the shadow of their family legacy and the same, spirited apple tree living in the back yard. While all seems mostly well, there are undercurrents of dissatisfaction, and not just between the sisters: Bay, now 15, has revealed her feelings to Josh Matteson, who doesn't reciprocate, and nine year old Mariah, who has suddenly developed a friendship with a girl no one knows. There is also the presence of a mysterious stranger who doesn't seem to have the Waverley interests at heart.
So, on to my thoughts:
1) This book is filled with beautiful, luxurious statements that had me pausing to savor the words. A couple of my favorites: "...happiness isn't a point you leave behind. It's what ahead of you. Every single day." "...it was like she's brought the entire month of July with her." Gorgeous writing.
2) A story doesn't have to be about a big, sweeping tragedy or event to make it worthwhile. It can be about a series of small events that resonate with your life and cause you to think.
3) A touch of magical realism never hurts anything and generally helps.
4) We believe what we choose to believe.
5) Visiting with old friends, even old friends who need a good lecture, is always a welcome thing.
6) Sometimes, all it takes to get you out of a reading slump is one fantastically engaging book. This is it.
I loved this story, even if I did get frustrated at times, especially with Claire. I love all the characters, especially Evanelle and Fred; their interactions were genuine and touching. If I'm still not sure about the ending with Violet and Sydney (no spoilers here), I can still believe in it. Allen's writing is so vivid and alive, I would probably go along with an ending that involved unicorns and talking frogs (neither of which make an appearance, thankfully).
Every time Sarah Addison Allen releases a new book, I'm practically giddy until I finish it, and this is no exception. My biggest problem is that now I'll have to wait more than a year for her next entry. First Frost is as good as it gets, and I suppose I'll just have to bask in its glow until the next one.