Monday, May 12, 2014

Book review: Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

Summary:

The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.

"When 16-year-old Becky Miller rescues an abandoned newborn, a nontraditional family is born, attracting other warm-hearted women into its folds. Reading "Providence" is like cozying up with longtime friends in front of a homey fire." --Sherry Shahan, author of "Skin and Bones" (Albert Whitman & Co.)

"A beautifully written tale about trying to make the right choice when there might not be one." --Wendy Mass, author of "A Mango-Shaped Space" (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)
 

NOTE: I received the eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

I wasn't sure I'd be impressed by this novel when I picked it up. The premise sounded good enough, but I had no idea how good the book would actually turn out. It actually had literary merit and made me think of The Help. So, I really liked it.

Writing style:
It was clean, and had the feeling that only a Southern writer can entwine with the words. Written from Becky's POV in the first person style, it made me see every decision she made through her own eyes.

Story line:
Providence was a story completely devoid of the usual cliches that fill young adult fiction books. By no means was it a romance story, although there was the beginning of one such sweet relationship-in-the-making.
Trouble always found Becky, or so we were told. So when an accident left her family's barn in flames, she decided to make a run for it and give her violent father some time to cool off. Little did she know that that would be just the beginning of an adventure she never thought she would go on.

Themes:
- The Good Samaritan is almost never met with respect.
- Can a girl survive alone in a world that is too prejudiced to help and too black hearted to give a hand?
- How do you ever figure out what's right and what's wrong?

Characters:
Becky was a brave girl. Left with nothing but her meager savings and a small backpack with her belongings, she should've been gone from home for no more than a couple of days. Finding Baby Girl all alone and abandoned in a dirty train car changed those plans. I certainly can't say that I agreed with Becky's choice to take Baby Girl with her instead of taking her to the police. After all, she could not have known for sure that she'd be able to take care of the little one. They could have starved to death or worse.
Still though, I understand that she was afraid that the police would take her back to her father. And she was also afraid that Baby Girl wouldn't fall in good hands. So there she was, (I believe) sixteen years old, with a baby to take care of. I'm not sure how many girls out there would be able to manage. Especially with a child who is not their own.

Rosie was the only person who decided to trust the lonely new girl, even though there was also a baby in the picture. Had it not been for the cheerful old lady, I'm not sure if Becky and little Georgia Rose would have had a chance.

John was the boy-for-everything in this small town. Rosie used him for her garden, for handy work and for whatever else she couldn't do herself. He turned out to be a thoughtful, understanding young man with a kind heart. He was also exceptional, but I guess that's because he wasn't the immature kind of boy we usually see in young adult literature. John knew that Becky had quite a lot on her head and he didn't press her for attention even though he made his interests known. I could do nothing but respect him.

In conclusion:
Providence is a book you'd end up loving if you care for novels with good literary merit. It's not just the next cliche romance story. It's a lot more. 


My rating is: