My review of The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell

About the book:

Heartbroken over the tragic death of her fiancé, seventeen-year-old Zora Stewart leaves Baltimore for the frontier town of West Glory, Oklahoma, to help her young widowed aunt keep her homestead going. There she discovers that she possesses the astonishing ability to sense water under the parched earth. When her aunt hires her out as a “springsweet” to advise other settlers where to dig their wells, Zora feels the burden of holding the key to something so essential to survival in this unforgiving land. Even more, she finds herself longing for love the way the prairie thirsts for water. Maybe, in the wildness of the territories, Zora can finally move beyond simply surviving and start living.

My review:

I enjoyed this story more than I’d anticipated. It was achingly sweet when it came to engaging my heart. This author knows how to make readers identify with characters and yearn for their happiness. The writing was astonishingly beautiful and the historical setting quite rich in detail. The words the author chose to describe situations and things were often poetic and lyrical in style. I liked the first person point of view that the book was written in and the YA coming-of-age mindset. The magic of the springsweet was a minor part of the story, and in my opinion unnecessary. At the same time I could see how the author used it to appeal to a YA readership and to illustrate a few things that I can’t say without giving away a spoiler or two.

The hero was not at all pretentious and at times he was downright irresistible. The heroine had a great character arch where she learned to value bluntness and to be real with others. She matured in this story and the fact that she slowly discovered what she wanted from life kept me intrigued and reading with a sense of anticipation. I rallied for her emotional healing and wanted to hug her at times for taking baby steps forward until she could finally enjoy life again. All in all, I found this book inspiring. Again, for people who aren’t offending by magic (that is a small part of the story anyway) and who enjoy novels where characters discover who they are, what they want, and young love, this story is sure to delight.

The Springsweet was published by Harcourt Children’s books and released in April 2012.

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