Cold Sassy Tree
By: Olive Ann Burns
Reviewer Rating: Three out of Three Stars
Best For: 14 and up
Much Ado About N-O-T-H-I-N-G, Nothing
Guest review by Catina Haverlock
It’s 1906 and the town of Cold Sassy, GA is in an uproar when Rucker Blakeslee, the town’s general store owner, and highly respected citizen of the small community, marries a woman young enough to be his daughter – and only three weeks after his wife passed away, thank you very much. This is all the book is about. Really. This is the plot. The scandal of this marriage. This is the action. This is it.
I broke my number one book rule with this story, which is this: If I’m not intrigued by chapter 5, I stop reading. I wasn’t intrigued by chapter 5. I wasn’t intrigued by chapter 30. But all those 4 star reviews. There had to be SOMETHING redemptive in this story. So I kept turning pages.
I didn’t love the narrator, 14-year-old Will Tweedy, Rucker Blakeslee’s treasured grandson. He wasn’t believable or endearing to me in any way. His pranks and antics didn’t make me laugh – and his role was unrealistic in my opinion – the way he always seemed to be hiding behind a door or around the corner just as his grandfather and new wife revealed something about their relationship. I think I may have connected with some of the other characters, but so little time was spent developing them that I’ll never know. The vernacular was distracting (though I hear it worked well in the audio version). But reading phrases like this wore me down: “If’n you’d a-got kilt, it’d mean you jest didn’t move fast enough, like a rabbit that gits caught by a hound dog.”
The story was not compelling. The pace was torturous. The round-about and distracted story telling drove me out of my mind. The setting was poorly described, (and I think settings have the potential to be one of the best things about stories set in the South). The one thing I enjoyed was learning about all the early 1900’s-era products carried at the Blakeslee’s general store and how technology was developing at the time (indoor bathrooms, the first automobiles, phonographs, etc.). It was a long book, so I was also disappointed that the ending was abrupt and left you with more questions than answers.
One character describes a time when she was sexually assaulted as a child by her father. It was written with tact and not overly descriptive. Several minor cuss words.
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