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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If the intended market for To Hide in Holly Springs is young adults ages 14-18, then Sandy Appleyard knows what will interest her readers: stories about love, romance, school, career choices, and friends they can trust. She also knows some of the key social issues young people today are dealing with: family and parental relationships, date rape drugs and pedophilia. Sandy Appleyard explores all these areas nicely in To Hide in Holly Springs, through the lives and characters of three sisters -- Linda, Layla and Tasha -- and their parents, both loving, but work-overloaded doctors. While Tasha is still very young, the two older girls face problems in their social and personal lives about which they are unable to talk to their parents. As each tries to find ways to deal with the issues, one of which is very serious and involves both 16-year-old Layla and little Tasha, not really knowing what is going on, but in order to protect their children, the parents decide to move their family from New York to rural Holly Springs in North Carolina. The transition from the big city to a little country town, where everyone seems to know your business, is hard on the older girls, but ultimately turns out to be the right move.
As the plot unfolds, Appleyard drops hints that Layla has witnessed or experienced something very sinister. Astute readers will pick up on what’s at the bottom of Layla’s nightmares and fears, but won’t get all the ramifications until the book is nearly done. The plot is clever, realistic and relevant to teens today. Though some chapter and location transitions are a little abrupt, Appleyard uses dialogue well to move the story along and capture the depth of the parents’ love for their children and vice versa. Impatient readers, who want to find out exactly what the big secret is that Layla is hiding, may find the plot moving too slowly for them. Appleyard creates homey scenes and believable characters who interact comfortably with each other, all the while carrying worries deep inside themselves. So sit back and enjoy To Hide in Holly Springs.