Review: The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart @wordstogobuy @KensingtonBooks


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Set in the Carolinas in the 1940s, The Road to Bittersweet is a beautifully written, evocative account of a young woman reckoning not just with the unforgiving landscape, but with the rocky emotional terrain that leads from innocence to wisdom. For fourteen-year-old Wallis Ann Stamper and her family, life in the Appalachian Mountains is simple and satisfying, though not for the tenderhearted. While her older sister, Laci—a mute, musically gifted savant—is constantly watched over and protected, Wallis Ann is as practical and sturdy as her name. When the Tuckasegee River bursts its banks, forcing them to flee in the middle of the night, those qualities save her life…

The Road to Bittersweet came exactly at the right moment for me. This past month has been a bit difficult because of work stuff and I tried to keep myself busy, so I didn’t read as much as I usually do. However, I loved this book from the moment I started it, and even though it took me almost a week to finish it, I must say I adored every page. I had a feeling it would eventually drag a little because of the slow pace, but the truth is that it kept me engaged the whole time. I highly recommend it.

The Education of Dixie Dupree was one of my favorite books last year and I was excited to dive into Donna Everhart’s new novel. That being said, I was instantly surprised when I started reading it because although both books are set in the southern United States, in my humble opinion, they have nothing else in common. Dixie Dupree was a tougher read, dealing with darker themes and featuring a more cynical perspective. On the other hand, The Road to Bittersweet had more of an “epic” feeling and I think it was much more hopeful and innocent in some ways.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a happy book. It’s actually so dramatic that for the first 50%, I kept wondering how could anyone endure so many tragedies and still be willing to go on. I loved the Stamper family and wanted them to be happy, but Donna Everhart kept making that particular goal less clear with every page. So I guess the title fits perfectly, since this novel truly felt like a journey. The Road to Bittwesweet tells us all about Wallis Ann’s coming of age (although not your usual one by any means) and how families never give up, even under the worst of circumstances.

The book was emotional (I cried when something terrible happened) but it never felt overly sentimental, I think it portrayed everything in a very realistic way and I loved the writing. As for the characters, Wallis Ann was amazing, I loved everything about her and I could understand her jealousy and insecurities as well. She was fourteen years old, after all. She was the main protagonist of the story, but it was nice to read about Laci, Seph, the parents, and Clayton too.

All in all, this was such a beautiful book that I would recommend it to all those looking for a different kind of historical read, one that deals with a family’s struggle to live happily ever after. I removed part of the blurb because I feel it reveals way too much and it’s better to read it without knowing some things.

Edelweiss, Kensington, 2017

22 thoughts on “Review: The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart @wordstogobuy @KensingtonBooks

  1. Betty says:

    Great review! I’m thrilled to see you loved this book as much as I did.I’m pretty sure I know which part made you cry… it really upset me, too. 😦 If ever there was a book that breaks your hear again and again, it’s this one. Donna Everhart is one of my new favorite authors… this book and The Education of Dixie Dupree are both so good!


  2. Stephanie says:

    I’m reading this one right now, and I’m hooked! I’ve already cried, and I just started it 😦 So emotional! I think I’m really attached to this one because my granddaddy was born in the NC Appalachia, so those are my roots in a way. I can still hear the echoes of the Appalachia in the way my great-aunt talks (she’s 98!) when I read the book, which is so odd since my granddad never spoke that way. I know that I’m going to bawl when I read this one, but that’s okay…I love when a book stirs my soul!


  3. Susie | Novel Visits says:

    This sounds really good, Annie, but also like one that you need to be in the right frame of mind to read. I do like Southern fiction, so I’m going to keep it on my list for the right time.

    I hope things are starting to be a less difficult. Take care of yourself!


  4. Diana says:

    Sounds like a beautiful, emotional read and I am glad that it came at the right moment for you. I haven’t found a book that has impacted me emotionally in quite a while. I will look out for this one. Fab review.


  5. Amanda @Cover2CoverMom says:

    For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards tragic books… I love when a book makes me cry. Why do we love to torture ourselves? This sounds like a wonderful little read.

    Don’t you hate when the synopsis spoils the book? I mean I get they are trying to get you to pick the book up, but less is more in my opinion!


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