Today is usually a day where we 'talk about' stuff that no one else does to get others talking. Today, I am so proud to promote my daughter, Jaimie's, very first book review.
We've hired her on to review books...both because I don't have the time with my novel-writing and...well...honestly...there have been some health issues stressing us all out around here.
But that's another blog post.
Jaimie has reviewed The Purple Hat Gang written by one of my amazing author friends, Judith Kristen. Jaimie did a phenomenal job with this write up so please enjoy, read the book and share her review with those you think may be interested.
Thank you, my girl. You done good. ;)
He is able who thinks he is able: A review of Judith Kristen’s “The Purple Hat Gang”
Ah, coming-of-age novels. They’re something I’ve really gotten into since most of them skip the silly cliches. So, when I read the synopsis of The Purple Hat Gang at 9:00 pm on a school night, I sighed. Why? I knew this was going to have to be a binge read. And I was right. The prologue got me completely addicted, just like the coffee I have to chug in the mornings because of these late night reading sessions.
The Purple Hat Gang centers around five 8th graders: Dee Ann, Mary Ellen, Myra, Kate, and our protagonist, Julie. It was the swingin’ sixties when everyone was carefree and happy. . . well, not everyone. During a late night pow-wow on Julie’s thirteenth birthday party, the girls confess their deepest worries and conflicts. This kicks off a series of good-hearted pursuits to fix family issues, separation, illness in loved ones, boy trouble and mysteries all affecting the five girls. This is all while 8th grade graduation stress consumes them. Yes, rich Dee, bubbly Mary, kind Myra, troubled Kate, and intelligent Julie may be very different girls, but their long term friendship and love completely abolishes their unlikeness. You will finish this novel convinced that you too are a doer of good deeds, master of your fate, and a captain of your soul.
Author Judith Kristen does a phenomenal job with the character development, despite the novel being her debut in her writing career. Characters are developed through interactions with Julie in first person, as well as their own separate sections of dialogue when Julie is not present. Each of the five main character’s problems are acknowledged and dealt with throughout the perfectly paced book. Supporting characters introduced are never just thrown in there for the hell of things, and are easily likeable. There’s hardly any stock characters and even those with stereotypes have their surprises. No matter if you’re 13, 23, 33, or even 103, there’s a character- main or supporting- you can relate to. I personally fell in love with the personality of Bubby, Myra’s grandmother. The sweet lady was always full of wise words (“Our own heart is the temple, and the philosophy is peace and love”) and educated Myra on many religions. The giggly, love-smitten side of me liked Julie’s love interest, Andrew, perhaps a little too much.
As for the flow of the book, it was pieced together well and wasn’t awkward in the least. You will never be able to easily guess what will happen next in the novel, leaving you anticipating every word. You will finish this novel feeling completely satisfied. Maybe even a little teary, too.
Kudos to Judith Kristen. You exceeded every one of my expectations for this novel. And for those readers out there feeling the same way, I suggest checking out Kristen’s other young adult novels. There’s quite a selection for 60’s, young love, and Beatles enthusiasts such as myself. Kristen has also released a series of picture books for any younger children.