Thursday, May 14, 2015

Review: Dear Carolina

Summary: A moving debut novel about two mothers—one biological and one adoptive—from a compelling new voice in Southern women’s fiction.

One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made… -- Berkley

This might sound shallow, but I mean it in the nicest way possible. One of the reasons I picked up
DEAR CAROLINA by Kristy Woodson Harvey was the gorgeous cover. I know I shouldn't "judge" a book by its cover, but this one is seriously beautiful... and puts me in the mood for summer! I'm happy to say that DEAR CAROLINA is much more than just a pretty face. This novel was a touching story about what it means to be a mother and the importance of family in our lives!

DEAR CAROLINA tells the story of two very different women. Khaki Mason seems to have it all -- a successful career as an interior designer, a wonderful husband, and an adorable son. However, her inability to have another child puts a damper on that! Jodi is her husband's cousin whose life is on a very different track. She's 19 and pregnant... and also a recovering alcoholic. The father of the child is gone and she's pretty much scared and all alone.

When Jodi turns to Khaki and her husband for some help, the women forge an unlikely bond. Khaki finds herself becoming very attached to the baby girl, while Jodi isn't sure she's cut out to be a mother. When Jodi decides to allow Khaki to adopt Carolina, she proves that being a good mother sometimes requires huge sacrifices.

DEAR CAROLINA was a beautiful story and really touched my heart. I was impressed with Ms. Harvey's writing skills and she definitely created a cast of characters that will remain in my thoughts for some time. While I do read a fair share of women's fiction with similar themes, I liked that this book was a little different from most. By that I mean I appreciated the way she wrote this novel -- in the form of letters to Carolina from both women.

This novel was Ms. Harvey's first one and I hope it's just the beginning of a successful writing career. I was very impressed with how well Ms. Harvey created strong female characters who, although very different, were both good mothers. In addition, I respected the way she portrayed Khaki and Jodi's troubles. I found her depiction of both infertility and addiction to be very real... and I think that's why I felt as if I truly understood these characters. As a result, my heart went out to Khaki and Jodi; and I was inspired by their friendship with each other.

DEAR CAROLINA would make a wonderful book club selection. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide on-line. However, I don't think finding things to discuss will be a problem for most groups. There are many relevant issues in this story that women will enjoy discussing including family, friendship, mother/child relationships, marriage, loss, grief, addiction, abuse, and sacrifice. I also think Khaki and Jodi are interesting characters, and many people will like analyzing their actions.

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this novel.


Beth and Kristy said...

Thank you so, so much for this fabulous review, Julie! I appreciate it more than you know!! I'm so happy you enjoyed Dear Carolina! xo Kristy

bermudaonion said...

This does sound like a book that would get people talking! I'll have to look for it!