Dec 8, 2012

Review: The Secret Sense of Wildflower by Susan Gabriel

Probably one of the best surprises this year almost slipped by me. I was asked several months ago to read Susan Gabriel's THE SECRET SENSE OF WILDFLOWER but unfortunately that request got lost in all the emails I receive and I didn't realize it until much later. Luckily for me, I did finally get the opportunity to read this coming of age story taking place in the mountains of Tennessee in the early 1940's. It turned out to be one of my favorite reads this year. It is a gem, and I am so happy to share it here today.

About The Book: (No Spoilers Included!)

Twelve year-old Louisa May "Wildflower" McAllister, has never gotten over the death of her father who was killed in a work accident the year before. The youngest of four girls, she was truly Daddy's girl. Not only because of their close bond, but she is more like him than the others, a fact that seems to upset her mother, who is also grieving terribly.

On the anniversary of her father's death, something happens that will change Wildflower's life forever. It wasn't her fault, she wasn't looking for trouble, but she is terrified her mother will never see it that way or ever be able to forgive her.

This is a story of family, loyalty, forgiveness and love surrounding a young girl who is simply trying to find her way in a world she doesn't even fully understand at such a tender age. With the help of her sisters and an aunt who shares a special 'sense' with Wildflower, she learns the lessons life is teaching her, no matter how cruel and hard these lessons can sometimes be.

My Thoughts:

This is the type of book that I crave to read. It's beautifully written in lyrical prose that I found myself slowing down to re-read. It has such a deep familial core, yet also has a darkness that makes you keep reading.. All of the characters are so true to the era and Appalachian culture and are all very believable. It is a true Southern tale. There are both great relationships and some very difficult ones that add even more layers to this story. Part of what makes it more complex is how Wildflower, while still coming to terms with her father's death and the changes it brought to the entire family, she is now burdened with even more difficult circumstances that cause her to fight even harder for a better life.

What I really like is that Wildflower is telling the story from her own perspective. It brings such an innocent honesty that grabs your heart and doesn't let go. I'm a sucker for a story told through a child's eye and Ms. Gabriel interprets this protagonist beautifully. Though it has some disturbing moments, the story, as a whole, is wonderful and shouldn't be missed.

This is definitely a story that will stay with me for a long while and recommend it highly. I am thankful to Susan Gabriel for sending me a copy and for forgiving me for not getting back to her sooner. To learn more about this author visit her website and follow her on Twitter @susangabriel   

Author: Susan Gabriel
Publisher: Wild Lily Arts
Published: April 2012
Genre: Coming of Age, Southern Fiction
Length: 224 pp
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5


  1. I love everything about this book and your high rating has me marking this as a read for next year for sure!!!!

  2. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for such a thoughtful review. It means a lot to a writer when a reader really "gets it." Thanks also for your help in spreading the word about Wildflower's story.

    All the best,
    Author of The Secret Sense of Wildflower

    P.S. If any of your readers have questions they can hop over to my website ( and use the contact form. I love hearing from readers!

  3. How interesting this sounds. Southern fiction and coming of age story. Nice review.

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