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Reviewed by Sefina Hawke for Readers' Favorite
The Whispering of the Willows by Tonya Jewel Blessing is a southern fiction, religious themed story that would appeal most to a mixed audience of adults and mature young adults who enjoy Appalachian drama fiction and can handle a rape scene. The story takes place in Big Creek West Virginia in the 1920s and follows Emerald Ashby and her family as they navigate life in their poor household, with a father with a mean temper and no mercy. Emerald Ashby’s life growing up was far from happy, as her father was very willing to whip her with a switch any time she so much as nicked him when she shaved his face. However, young Emerald’s life took a turn for the worse when she is traded into a marriage against her will for financial gain. Will the struggle for freedom make Emerald stronger or will it break her spirit?
The Whispering of the Willows by Tonya Jewel Blessing had a very melancholy beginning in how the book opened with Emerald facing punishment from her father and hiding in fear of it. As the plot continued, the tone of it began to change as Emerald faced being traded into a marriage. This might have seemed horrible to Emerald, but it was also a defining moment for her that allowed her to find her inner strength. The author was clearly in her element as she created wonderfully developed characters with their own unique thoughts and personalities. I found the ending to be different from what I was expecting, but I found that ultimately it was the perfect ending for this book!