Review: Honeysuckle Holiday by Kathleen M. Jacobs

Alexis: Read 3/11/19

*The author sent me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.*

Honeysuckle Holiday was such a poignant read. Don’t let the cover fool you: this short book tackles childhood innocence and racism.

The story follows Lucy in two different time periods: 1965 and 1970, when she was twelve and sixteen-years-old. Though Honeysuckle Holiday is categorized as YA, I would describe it more as a bildungsroman/coming-of-age story. When Lucy’s father leaves, not looking back, on Christmas Day, she and her older sister, Caroline, try not to dwell on it too much. But she knows something has changed when her mother refuses to talk about him and when they have to move into a different house.

In her acknowledgements, Jacobs quotes a woman named Peggy Fox: ‘“You captured the voice of a twelve-year-old girl very well.’” And she’s right. Jacobs’ writing flows beautifully, but I was very aware that I was reading in the perspective of a twelve-year-old.

Lucy notices everything around her. She relates things to her Barbie dolls, which she admits she’s starting to outgrow. She is jealous of some of Caroline’s things but also wants to be like Caroline when she grows up. She partly knows why her dad left but is partly left in the dark. She’s curious about the world around her and asks lots of questions. Jacobs’ detailed descriptions mimic Lucy’s curious mind. I also like how she includes a lot of parenthetical phrases, as Lucy has a lot of afterthoughts.

I love all of the references Jacobs includes in her book. Lucy’s mother wears Chanel No. 5. Lucy uses a Velveeta box to hold her collection of found objects. The characters reference It’s A Wonderful Life, The Beatles, and TV shows of the time. These references cemented the story into its setting and time period, bringing it to life.

Lucy mentions To Kill a Mockingbird multiple times, and even relates herself to Scout. I found this fitting, as the story reminded me a lot of To Kill a Mockingbird. Both are told from a young perspective, but are really told for a more mature audience. Both deal with racial tensions and divides, as well as the horror of the KKK. I loved Jacobs’ inclusion of descriptions of food. The book is set in the South, and I enjoyed reading about Lila’s apple pies, okra, and Lucy’s love of steak.

While I liked how Lucy describes the honeysuckle vines ( as well as the smell) outside of her window, I don’t think the title of the story sums it up very well. Though the story itself was impactful, the title was not. To me, the honeysuckle symbolizes Lucy’s childhood innocence, and the book is about coming-of-age and losing that behind. I’m also not sure why the first couple of chapters are in Caroline’s POV.

Overall, if you’re looking for a quick read that’s packed with vivid details, that will draw you into the 60’s and 70’s, and whose message will stay with you, then I definitely recommend it.

VERDICT: 4 out of 5 books

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