Cottonwood Whispers is the latest offering from Jennifer Erin Valent and the sequel to her first novel, Fireflies in December.
It’s 1936 and Jessilyn Lassiter is seventeen years old. While the last four years since her family’s encounter with the Ku Klux Klan have been relatively peaceful, this summer brings changes that threaten to tear her world apart. Gemma, her adopted sister, takes a job with the wealthy Hadley family and attracts the attention of young Joel Hadley. Blinded by infatuation, Gemma becomes incensed when Jessilyn suggests that Joel’s attentions are less than pure. Luke Talley is still a close friend, but now that Jessilyn is growing into a young woman, the nature of their friendship begins to change.
As Gemma and Luke distance themselves from her, Jessilyn tries to come to grips with adulthood. In the midst of this, a neighbor’s young child is tragically killed in an accident. All the evidence seems to point to elderly Mr. Poe, but the Lassiters know this simple-minded, gentle man would never commit such an atrocity. As deep seeded racism and hatred boil to the surface once again in Calloway, the Lassiters are forced to risk everything to stand for the truth.
Once more Ms. Valent has crafted an engaging novel that captures the sleepy heat and character of a bygone south. Jessilyn is a vibrant narrator and her voice clings with the reader long after the last page has been turned. The plot moves at a nice clip with plenty of action and romance. Jessilyn still wrestles with her faith in God and Ms. Valent doesn’t sugar coat this issue. Though not a cliff hanger, the open ending leaves the reader eagerly anticipating the third and final installment, due out next year.
Cottonwood Whispers will be released on September 1, 2009 and is currently available for pre-order from several retailers including Amazon.com.
To read about Fireflies in December click here.
To learn more about Jennifer Valent click here.