True Placesby Published 01 Jan 2019
|Publisher||Lake Union Publishing|
A Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestseller
A girl emerges from the woods, starved, ill, and alone…and collapses.
Suzanne Blakemore hurtles along the Blue Ridge Parkway, away from her overscheduled and completely normal life, and encounters the girl. As Suzanne rushes her to the hospital, she never imagines how the encounter will change her—a change she both fears and desperately needs.
Suzanne has the perfect house, a successful husband, and a thriving family. But beneath the veneer of an ideal life, her daughter is rebelling, her son is withdrawing, her husband is oblivious to it all, and Suzanne is increasingly unsure of her place in the world. After her discovery of the ethereal sixteen-year-old who has never experienced civilization, Suzanne is compelled to invite Iris into her family’s life and all its apparent privileges.
But Iris has an independence, a love of solitude, and a discomfort with materialism that contrasts with everything the Blakemores stand for—qualities that awaken in Suzanne first a fascination, then a longing. Now Suzanne can’t help but wonder: Is she destined to save Iris, or is Iris the one who will save her?
True Places Reviews
Driving along a parkway in Virginia, Suzanne Blakemore notices something on the side of the road. As she moves closer, she realizes that it is a young girl who is malnourished and in need of medical care. After admitting her at a nearby hospital, she finds out Iris is an orphan who has been struggling to survive in the woods.
Suzanne is informed that Iris will be placed in foster care if no relative can be located. Without consulting her family, she decides to bring Iris into her household. This has lasting ramifications since nobody else is happy with this decision. Tension starts to build with her husband and two teenage children where the environment had already been spiraling downward. Her husband has a successful career but seems more concerned with work than home. At the same time, her children are growing up and pushing for independence. The arrival of Iris seems like a good catalyst to improve some nagging mistakes from her past.
Sonja Yoerg’s novel provides insight into a woman trying to find her true place in the world. People change over time and it takes courage to start on a new path. True Places was an engaging view of complex family issues.
4.5 stars rounded to 5 stars
What a beautiful story. I have now read all four of Ms. Yoerg’s books, and she never fails to deliver a well-written tale with significant depth.
This one focuses on Suzanne, a housewife and mother who is doing the best she can to keep her dysfunctional family rolling on. Her co-protagonist is Iris, a teenager who has lived her whole life in the Blue Ridge Mountains without ever experiencing a “modern” lifestyle. How these two come together and help each other handle their pasts and discover a better way of life is the crux of the story.
Having grown up near the foothills of the Smoky Mountains I loved the Blue Ridge Mountain area setting in Virginia. I believe this is home territory for the author. Her descriptions brought back those mountain sounds and smells to me. Gee I miss all the times I spent with my family in the mountains of the southeast Tennessee. I understand Ms. Yoerg is also an avid gardener and plant lover, and her knowledge of the flora of the mountains in her area is clearly demonstrated in True Places. Her descriptive imagery is lovely.
There is a lot going on in True Places, but Ms. Yoerg keeps us on track. There are issues between Suzanne and her parents, her husband, and her children despite her efforts to keep things moving as smoothly as possible. Each of her two children have problems, and poor Iris is having a hard time without her family and trying to assimilate into “the real world.” At one point I wondered how all of this could possibly be resolved. I liked the way the author brought things together at the end, though I wished the resolution had been drawn out a little more, hence the withholding of half a star.
I must commend the artist responsible for the cover and the author for a perfect title. Not only does the title sum up the story in two words, it is intriguing and original in this age of so many similar (and oh so tired) titles. My first impressions of a book are almost always based on the cover and the title, and this one hauled me in like a mega magnet.
I felt for the realistically drawn characters, especially Suzanne, Iris, and Reid. I was pleased Ms. Yoerg didn’t fluff things up with a “perfect”, and thus unrealistic, ending. I would love to visit this family again in ten years to see how things all worked out for them, but at the same time I’m glad the author elected not to have an epilogue. Despite it feeling a tad rushed, the denouement is satisfying just as it is.
What I liked most about this novel is that the story made me think. Have I made the most of my life? Am I in my own true place? I highly recommend True Places (and Ms. Yoerg’s other three books) to all readers of contemporary fiction. I await the author’s next offering with great anticipation.
Thank you, Ms. Yoerg, for gifting me an ARC of True Places. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
This book was wonderful!
Fog hung in the trees, a hush of silvery damp, but the girl could tell the sun would burn through before long and dry the grasses hunched under the weight of dew
The cabin stood in a small clearing, and the trees surrounding it had strained toward the heavens for a long time, long enough for the trunks to have become too thick for the girl to enclose them in the circle of her arms, long enough for anyone with decency to fall silent in reverence.
The fog had disappeared as surreptitiously as it has come. The sun was high and all the green in the world was rising toward it. She listened as she climbed, her skin and each of her senses bound together into solid awareness. Everything surrounds her, impinging on her, she felt and knew
One day Suzanne had enough; she had to get away from the family and her responsibilities for just a little while so she decided to just drive a little bit. She found a little girl next to the woods and took her to the hospital. This is where the story of Iris truly begins. What happened to her parents? Why did she live in the woods?
"People. People want to know things about you. People want you to follow rules. People put chemicals in the water, and ruin good food and hurt animals and waste things that are precious. People won't let you live a simple, good life." She faced him. " I don't need people, and I don't want them."
But life is going to take a different turn for Iris because Suzanne can't leave her alone in a world she knows nothing about.
Suzanne twisted to look across the treetops and roofs to the rolling hills and the mountains beyond. She imagined Iris wandering along the ridges, drinking from the streams, searching for food, sleeping on the forest floor, untethered and unaccountable to anyone but herself. Now Suzanne imagined not Iris but herself, alone in the woods. The thought made her heart beat faster, and for an instant she wasn't certain whether it was from fear or excitement.
I loved how this book had POV's for Suzanne, her husband, two kids and Iris. We get to find out little things about each of them.
I loved Suzanne's son, Reid. He was a big cool dude! I hated the daughter, Brynn until the end. And I didn't like the husband, Whit, on and off until the end as well. And I'm so glad this book had a happy ending for everyone. The book had my feel good ending!
She finished clearing the plants away and squatted on her heels with one hand on the top of the marker, listening. The wind sighed through the tops of the trees, shifting the pattern of light falling to the forest floor. A pair of dusky-blue butterflies, no bigger than her thumbnail, danced in a shifting column of light, then alighted, first one, then the other, on the damp ground, violet blue against brown, before twirling upward once more. Beyond the clearing, in the undergrowth, a bird kicked through the leaf litter. A towhee.
True Places is such an exquisite, emotional, and beautiful story.
Sonja Yoerg has an impeccable talent of pouring her beautiful words across the pages with such elegance, love, and inspiration. I fell in love with Sonja's writing in All The Best People last year and her new novel is nothing short of amazing.
This novel spoke to me in so many different ways. Yoerg truly shines with her descriptions of the natural world. I was mesmerized with the beautiful words that truly come to light in this novel. Haven't we all felt at one point or another that we haven't found our "true place" in the world?
Ironically, I never found my place in the world until I stepped foot in the world of social work. This story brings to light the complexities and struggles of a family dealing with this thing called life. It's about all of the family members losing themselves and somehow finding what makes them happy.
The power of emotion that pours off these pages will truly touch your soul and your heart.
"Iris knew that being strong wasn't enough, because life could weigh more then you ever imagined. You had to bend , like a branch laden with snow, arcing toward the earth."
Highly highly recommend!
4.5 raw and emotional stars.
Huge thank you to Sonja Yoerg, Netgalley, and Lake Union Publishing for the arc in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Publication date: 1/1/19
Published to GR: 11/10/18
I feel like the wild violet crushed under the heel of the boot in the field. So much promise, so much disappointment.
Sonja Yoerg presents a story set gently in the surrounding area near the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's early April and Suzanne Blakemore, mother of two teens, is rushing between Super Mom trips. She delivers, picks up, relocates, plans, and follows through on a daily basis. All in the name of her family and her Booster Club activities. Her husband, Whit, enters through the front door when all is said and done at the end of the day never realizing what goes on behind the scenes.
Stressed and swimming to the surface for air, Suzanne decides to chuck it all and just drive out into the country to disengage. The further out she gets, the more her shoulders relax. She pulls over to the side of the road for a time. Her eyes come upon something laying in the field. It's a young girl who appears to be injured. Rather than wait for help in the middle of nowhere, Suzanne rushes the girl to the nearest hospital.
Iris is a sixteen year old who had been living off the grid since she was a child. She's definitely malnourished and considerably underweight. Iris gives limited information to the police and Child Protective Services. Her mother died and her father took off some time back. She's frightened, leery of others, and needs a place to stay. Suzanne has an idea to put forth.
And here is where the story takes a turn down a path that I didn't want to venture down. The storyline weaves in the direction of Suzanne, herself, and her malfunctioning family. Iris becomes sidelined and relegated to a shelf taken down when needed. Sonja Yoerg writes in gorgeous prose in the first chapter as we lightly experience Iris before her entry into a new life not of her choosing. It is Iris who should have been the focus throughout with more of her soul searching from past to present. She is a rare character with rare experiences.
Instead, we readers are subjected to the insolence of teenagers out of control and clueless parents. The dialogue between mother and daughter is filled with constant snarky remarks and sharp insults with no attempts to shut it down. Yeah, I get it. So real life. I turned the pages for Iris and got nothing but an unpleasant TV sitcom.
Sonja Yoerg is a storyteller of stellar proportions. I've treasured all of her books. But this one was a disappointment for me. And even the dreamy ending hitched a star to Suzanne's wagon.....not so much to Iris. I know I stand pretty much alone against a field of 5 Star reviews. It's just my take. See what you think......