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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
Punk is a title that might normally put me off, but I was taken by the back cover blurb on Amy Q Barker’s latest novel. I started reading, harboring some reservations, but the first few pages raised questions that kept me interested, so I persevered. I wasn’t disappointed. Wow! Punk was very different from the styles I typically look for, but it was brilliant: amusing, insightful, inspiring, and enlightening -- a valuable life lesson in a fun and gripping story. Amy Q Barker has done a fabulous job of bringing the characters to life and making you share their journey, keenly feeling all their emotions.
Delia is a typical teenager. If, like me, you have raised daughters, you will relate readily to this troublesome but likable girl and her despairing mother. Barker captures the manner of speech of this ‘punk’ superbly, making the story fun to read. It’s also easy to relate to the struggling single mother, who fears she is failing dismally but battles on against the challenges of her daughter, financial worries, and other issues. And then there’s the older Delia, who we get to know through her diary and entries that take us back in time to offer a glimpse of what life was like for young women during the Great Depression. There's a fascinating contrast drawn between women of three very different generations, but Barker shows us how each generation can learn from, and appreciate, both older and younger.
This story is a mystery, a coming of age, a family saga, and classic women’s fiction, with a healthy dose of romance and just a little tragedy. It offers some brilliant philosophies about life, friendship, parenting, resilience, and overcoming the challenges we all face at one time or another. Amy Q Barker displays both impressive wisdom and a deep understanding of human nature. And it’s all wrapped up in a story that is superbly entertaining. It's great literary fiction. If I could award Punk ten stars, I would do so. Some of my recent reads have been great, but it’s a long time since I’ve read a novel that rivals Punk both for its entertainment value and for its literary quality. I will definitely look for more novels by this brilliant writer. Thank you, Amy Q Barker, for a truly great read!