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Book Review: Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

When Wonderland Creek begins we are quickly introduced to our main character Alice Ripley. Alice lives in Blue Island, Illinois and the year is 1936. She is a young woman age 22, living at home with her parents, a lovely petite blond, working in a library, and has a boyfriend named Gordon. Alice though loves books so much, that her every waking moment is with the thought of the current book she is reading, or the book she just read, or even the book she hopes to read. Alice is the perfect definition of a book lover gone to the extreme. She has literally tripped over and bumped in to objects because she was busy reading a book while walking. Her life thus far has completely revolved around books and reading, and of course her family (although I state that lightly because her nose is always in a book.)
I loved it that her character loved books and reading; but she is also a dreamy, immature, selfish, insensitive person. She keeps everything at a distance from her immediate attention, except for her precious books.
But, life changes dramatically when she looses her job at the library because of the economic times of the depression. When her wealthy aunt and uncle decided to take a trip to a spa in the Appalachian mountains, Alice decides to travel with them as far as the community of Acorn, Kentucky. Alice had been mailing donated books to the small library in Acorn, but now Alice has decided to deliver the 5 boxes of donated books in person. As soon as the books and her belongings are unloaded from her uncles car, he leaves her in a trail of dust and will not return for 2 weeks. Alice finds out quickly that Acorn, Kentucky is backwoods---rustic, without modern conveniences. The Acorn library is minuscule. Acorn has been hit hard by the closing of its main income provider, the coal mine. Its former employee's are having a difficult time surviving. Alice has been thrust in to a situation where she is "needed" to help out not only with the library, but with the inhabitants of Acorn.

When I first began reading Wonderland Creek I must admit Alice drove me crazy. She was just such an immature ding-a-ling. I sure hoped her character would evolve in this story.
I was pleased with the new characters I met once Alice arrived in Acorn. Such a fresh aroma of various people that live in this remote area of eastern Kentucky. One such character was made memorable by her own story of long ago.

I really loved this story and the more I think about it the more I love it.
I was impressed with the "other" characters that joined in to Wonderland Creek with their various life stories.  Especially one dear one, that had lived through so much, and yet had a heart filled with wisdom that exuded the most bountiful of riches.
And eventually, I could state Alice grew on me.  

Thank you to Bethany House for my free review copy. 

Published by Bethany House October 1, 2011
400 pages
Fiction/Depression Era
An excerpt is available at the links for Bethany House.

Lynn Austin's next novel available October 2012:
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