Flavors by Emily Sue Harvey is a book that will touch your heart in a special way by evoking memories of your own past – the wonder and hardships of growing up. I was first introduced to Emily Sue Harvey’s writing when I read her first novel Song of Renewal which I absolutely loved (my review). When the opportunity to review Flavors came up, I knew I wanted to be able to delve into the wonder of Emily’s words again. This is a short novel at 120 pages but it packs such a huge emotional punch that you will find yourself thinking back on it long after you’ve finished reading it.
Flavors is the coming of age story of twelve year old Sadie Ann Melton as remembered by Sadie herself at a time when she’s long past being a girl. However she always returns to the summer of 1950, the summer that turns out to be a time that changes Sadie’s life and outlook forever. She starts out the summer with the innocence of a child and ends with the tools to carry her into womanhood. It all starts for Sadie when the regular babysitter is unable to take care of her and her brother anymore and their parents with no other options, take them out to spend the weekdays with their grandparents on their farm in South Carolina.
At first Sadie is really excited because she’s going to spend the summer with her thirteen year old Aunt Nellie Jane. However she soon finds out that farm life on a daily basis is much different from just popping in for Sunday dinner. Nellie Jane is always busy with chores and while the girls spend a lot of ‘girl time’ together, Nellie Jane can also be a bit mean to Sadie too. Sadie also struggles with wondering whether her grandmother loves her as she is a woman worn by the struggles of working hard and bringing up a dozen children. One of the biggest things are the life lessons that Sadie receives from Nellie Jane who takes pleasure in instructing her on the ‘birds and the bees’ and such.
Sadie’s summer on the farm brings to her many happy times and many heartbreaking ones as well. Sadie gets several lessons on life – all that lead her on the path to the woman she will become. Sadie is such a sweet character too. She’s all innocence and has that energy that only comes with being a young kid. She’s still curious about everything and looking for answers. This novel really takes you on a trip through your own memories and the path you took to becoming a woman. I grew up heading out to my grandparents every weekend and this novel really made me think back to the happy times I spent with them.
One of my favorites parts of this novel were Sadie’s recollections of the flavors that went along with what was happening at that time of her life. Here are some of my favorites…
‘Home. The essence of it hit me anew and I could smell it’s unique fragrance, a blend of wood smoke, furniture polish that smelled like chewing gum and lingering aroma of fried potatoes smothered in onions, gingerbread baking or southern fried, country-style steak. And underlying it all was the incomparable bouquet of contentment and affection. Of unconditional love.’ (page 49)
‘Then she smiled softly at me as only your mama can, like the love starts at her toes and gushes up and spills out her beautiful cornflower blue eyes to splash all over you. You can go swimming in it and float on top of it. It lifts you to the sky and soars you above dark clouds. Into lemony sunshine.’ (pages 101/102)
As you can see, Emily Sue Harvey has a beautiful way with words and the whole novel is like that. Flavors will transport you to another time and place and you’ll lose yourself in the beauty of it. Flavors will make you laugh at times and cry at others but if you do read it, I don’t think you’ll ever forget it.
I read Flavors by Emily Sue Harvey for her book tour with Pump Up Your Book. You can find out more about Emily Sue Harvey and her work on her website! You can pick up your own copy of Flavors by Emily Sue Harvey here in the US and here in Canada and just a note the Kindle edition is at a fantastic price!
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