AUDIENCE: Adult & YA
PUBLISHER: Scribes Valley Publishing
EDITOR: David Repsher
COVER DESIGN: Tammy Sneath Grimes
In her stunning debut novel, Lessons From The Gypsy Camp, Elizabeth Appell explores human nature and forgiveness through the eyes of a young girl. Though she is young and vibrant, Lolly's life is not at all easy. Her father, a high-powered lawyer, spends his evenings getting drunk on "horns of corn" and her mother sleeps the days away on depression medication. To make matters worse, the girls at school tease Lolly, and when she stands up for herself, she only gets in trouble.
But everything changes when, in a fit of rage, Lolly's father tosses their pet cat into a burlap sack and tossed him down an embankment. The cat runs off, crippled, into the most dangerous part of town- the gypsy camp across the levee. Angry at her father and determined to find her beloved cat, Lolly ignores her parents' warnings and sneaks into the Gypsy camp in the middle of the night.
Lolly doesn't find her cat that night, but instead she finds an unlikely bunch of friends. Friends who care about her. Friends who her father is trying to hurt with his high-powered law degree. In the chapters that ensue, Lolly does everything in her power to set things right. But she's only a little girl, and she still has to answer to her daddy.
Lessons From the Gypsy Camp is a quick read, but it could have been slightly longer. While the heart of the story stayed strong throughout, there were occasions when the characters changed almost too quickly and conveniently, or when the plot line curved unexpectedly in Lolly's favor. If Elizabeth had spent a few more chapters developing the characters and honing the details of the plot, the story would have shone even brighter. In the end, though, these minor details did not detract from the overall quality of the book. Intermittently heartwarming and tragic, Lessons From the Gypsy Camp is a lesson for all of us in tolerance and acceptance.
Lessons From The Gypsy Camp is a tale that will pull at your heartstrings. Deftly written and tactfully arranged, the story is appropriate for adults and young adults alike. It is a story of love and acceptance that could only be told from the unblemished point of view of a young child.
4 out of 5 stars
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Amy R. Biddle, co-founder and senior editor at Underground Book Reviews, was raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has since made a living on the great blue sea. The Atheist's Prayer, her debut novel, will be published in the fall of 2013 by Perfect Edge Books. You can visit her at www.amyrbiddle.com.