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September 25, 2020

Let the Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"My Mama says that willows weep because of all the pain in the world." (p 175)

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Let the Willows Weep
October 2019; Indie;  978-1733307703
ebook, print (270 pages); southern fiction
In the tradition of the best Southern fiction—from Bastard Out of Carolina to Where the Crawdads Sing—Sherry Parnell’s Let the Willows Weep is a heart-wrenching portrait of hardscrabble, humble lives in rural America. A keenly-observed and unflinching look at the life of Birddog Harlin as she grows up in her dysfunctional family, this novel explores the line between destruction and redemption.

'Birddog' is the nickname her brother gave her when she was a baby.  She's now old enough to realize that her brother, Denny,  and her father are the only people in her world who truly care for her.  Her mother is always critical and cruel to her and her other brother is a bully.  Her mother is always nasty to her father for not bringing home enough money and causing them to live in a small shack and he works as many hours as possible at the coal mine to try to make life better for her.  The only person that her mother appears to love is her older brother Denny.  Denny is also her best friend and her protector.  Overall this is a totally dysfunctional family.  Then the worst thing possible happens, her father is killed in a cave-in at the mine and to support the family, Denny gives up his dreams of a better life and goes to work in the coal mines. After her father dies, Birddog's life gets even worse.  Her mother is more critical of her and her brother is no longer around to help protect her.  She wants to find someone to love her and by accident, she meets a man at the cemetery who is interested in her.  She begins to blossom and feel good about herself but that feeling quickly disappears as life in her small town becomes violent.  

I thought Birddog was a well-written character who lived in a sad home with an overly critical mother who didn't love her.  She managed to stay strong no matter what life threw at her until the last terrible act that determined how she was going to handle the rest of her life.  I'd have liked a little more information about her mother and why she was so critical of her daughter and husband but on the other hand, it would have taken away from Birddog's story.  Overall this was a beautifully written Southern novel with a strong female main character.  Her life was full of confusion and sorrow but at the end, she was able to find redemption. 

“Sometimes life is just like paper wings. Fragile, easily torn apart, and often there are too many pieces to pick up.”  (p 97)

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About the Author

Having spent her entire life captivated by books, Sherry Parnell remains struck by the idea that there are boundless experiences and worlds that exist with only the turn of a page. A professor, trainer, and writer, she lives with her husband and sons in the Pennsylvania countryside. She is an alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University.  

Connect with Sherry: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.


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  1. The quote you chose is SO GREAT. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours