Climbing To The Sun

A novel

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
355 Pages
Reviewed on 02/12/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

Climbing to the Sun by Shelley Burchfield started with Kizzy Beecham giving birth to a little girl on January 23, 1901. Seeta Young, the midwife, assured the scared young mother that her daughter looked like a white baby, although her biological father was black. Twenty-seven years later, Callie Beecham ran a small business in Pickens, South Carolina. She offered those less fortunate her medical treatments based on plants, looked after her elderly neighbor, Silas Roberts, and dreamed of becoming a nurse one day. Zeke Young, from the settlement of Liberia established by former slaves, asked Callie to help his wife with complications after birth. However, the Ku Klux Klan considered Liberia a forbidden area for anyone who wanted to help its inhabitants. The pillar of local society, Dr. Earl Davis, declared war on Callie for her attempts to provide medical care to the people of Liberia and her friendship with his assistant, Dr. Sam Epstein. Shaken and desperate, Callie learned that she was not alone.

Shelley Burchfield's Climbing to the Sun is a match for the most prominent works of world literature. Wonderfully written, Callie's story is haunting. Shelley paints a shocking picture of the segregated South with firm, honest strokes. Seeta is a true woman of God compared to the hypocrites calling themselves Christians while burning crosses to scare those who look different or ruining the lives of people who prefer synagogues over churches. Shelley is brutally honest, even regarding Callie, whose moral dilemma runs deep. Shelley's finely crafted characters will stay with me forever. This is also a captivating family drama with carefully guarded secrets and incredible revelations. This page-turner offers us a glimpse into the ancient art of naturopathy. The author presents it as a connecting thread between generations of amazing healer women who knew how to treat maladies with something they grew in their backyards. I highly recommend Climbing to the Sun to fans of drama, historical fiction, and women-centered novels, and to all those who refuse to give up in the face of injustice.

Viga Boland

In Climbing To The Sun by Shelley Burchfield, the year is 1928. Despite outward appearances, the little town of Pickens, South Carolina is rife with racial bigotry toward blacks and Jews, and the Ku Klux Klan is active in cleansing society of such undesirables. Here we meet the lovely Callie Beecham who ekes out a living through natural healing, much to the chagrin of the local doctor, Earl Davis. Davis’ new assistant doctor, Sam, is curious about natural remedies, and, once he meets her, is also beguiled by Callie who invites him along to help the poor, struggling Black people in Liberia. Sam’s decision to accompany Callie sets in motion a plot filled with prejudicial conflicts and events to make readers feel outraged that this is the America that was, and sadly, though to a lesser degree, is still alive and well today.

Have you ever had the pleasure of reading a novel that was so good you didn’t want it to end? That’s how I felt as I read Climbing To The Sun by Shelley Burchfield. This gifted author engaged me on so many levels and in so many ways that I haven’t stopped thinking about the book since I finished reading it. Climbing To The Sun wins hearts with the warmth, kindness, and love it portrays between several principal characters. How we share their simple pleasures and loathe those who rob them of these. How we applaud Callie’s ultimate victory over her inner conflicts regarding Sam and her heritage. And how we cheer when those who think and commit evil against others choke on their inhumanity. Shelley evokes so many emotions in the reader with the truths she captures so expertly that, like me, they won’t want this story to end. If someone were to ask me what’s the best historical novel I’ve read in 2024, the answer is instant: Climbing To The Sun. Brilliant in every way!

Anne-Marie Reynolds

Climbing To The Sun by Shelley Burchfield is a historical drama set in 1928. Callie Beecham is a herbalist and healer, running her small shop in a little town called Pickens, South Carolina, and treating people with her herbal therapies and medicines. Life is good until the day a young man bangs on her door, begging her to come to Liberia, a freed slave settlement. His wife is giving birth to their child and is in trouble, so Callie follows him and finds herself in an unknown world. When she opts to help the Liberian citizens, she falls foul of important people in the town who know something about her, something Callie prefers to keep secret. These people want only one thing – to rid the land of Callie and others like her. Will Callie triumph in her goals? What is her secret?

Climbing To The Sun by Shelley Burchfield is a wonderful story that you won’t want to put down. It’s not just a tale of one woman’s life. It’s a story of friendship, true courage, and the ever-constant racial problems that plague the world. The setting is awe-inspiring, and the author’s descriptive way of writing takes you right there into the heart of the Blueridge Mountains. It is an enjoyable story with a unique and steady plot written compellingly. The author brings history to life with some well-developed, colorful characters with fascinating lives. The characters are easy to relate to, and you really get to know them throughout the story. Burchfield has clearly done her research on the era, right down to the herbal remedies and practices that were once the only real form of healthcare. This is a story of physical and emotional healing, and it will dig into your heart and stay with you long after you put it down.