Kathleen M. Jacobs
Author Kathleen M. Jacobs currently spends her time between the Appalachian region and New York City though Kathleen's works stay true to her Appalachian roots. Kathleen wrote on her website, "In the summer before my twelfth birthday, my family moved from St. Louis to rural West Virginia. It didn’t take me long to realize that I would have enough material to last a lifetime to use in my stories from the heavy Appalachian dialect to the luscious wood setting that circled our house and the winding river that flowed fiercely through the valley, to the politics that dominated our region." Last month, in October, I had the pleasure of meeting Kathleen at the West Virginia book festival. I had a brief chat with her while at her booth about her novel, Honeysuckle Holiday. The cover had already caught my eye, and after listening to her describe the book I knew I had to read it. Both meeting Kathleen and reading her book turned out to be pleasant experiences.
Honeysuckle Holiday follows the life of 12-year old Lucy in the 1960's, who struggles to come to terms with her parents' mysterious divorce. As Lucy, along with her mother and sisters, move to the south, she finds herself in an extremely different world than the comfortable and privileged life she once had. As Lucy begins to understand the demise of her parent's marriage, she finds out that her father was involved with the KKK and committed a horrific crime. When Lucy's mother hires a black woman, Lila, to help around the home the situation intensifies. Lucy begins to learn the painful intricacies of life as she tries to find her independence, and keep herself and her family together. It addresses the layers of human frailty and brings to light the cultural climate of the 1960's and 70's.
This novel is honest and true to the cultural and societal norms that were perpetuated in a time of racism and inequality. This novel's theme is similar to To Kill a Mockingbird, as the dark depths of racism exhibited by certain characters may evoke feelings of disgust or offense. It is important for readers to remember that these scenes or conversations that are uncomfortable are essential to the message of the book. It is also necessary to the story as it cultivates the connection between Lila and Lucy, which ultimately extends to a larger meaning of acceptance and love. Honeysuckle Holiday was a quick but satisfying read, with well developed characters and a story that truly makes one consider the strength of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds of friendship and love.
Kathleen M. Jacobs has an eloquence that brings her writing to life and allows readers to connect to her characters and stories in an extraordinary way. Her works have appeared in regional and national publications. Kathleen's other works include The Puppeteer of Objects: A Lyrical Poem, Collected Curiosities, and Marble Town. All of her books are available to purchase on both Jan Carol Publishing's website and Kathleen's personal website. A few weeks after the festival, I was fortunate to have a representative from Jan Carol Publishing contact me about another one of Kathleen's novels. After emailing back and forth, I received a copy of Marble Town, which I look forward to reading and reviewing as well.