ABOUT THE BOOK:
“Third Willow is a heart-wrenching coming of age novel, ostensibly written for young people but better appreciated by adults…It’s the summer of ’54 in the sleepy mid-western town of Sand Flats, Nebraska. Four lonely misfits forge an unlikely friendship under the draping branches of the third willow-a safe place where humor, magic and sorrow coexist. There they discover that best friends can ease the pressures from the adult world that threaten to steal their innocence. Ringleader Hap-a poor man’s Peter Pan-is unwilling to let the abuse of his alcoholic father taint his boyish optimism while he secretly searches for his missing mother. Obsessed with his Indian roots, he constructs a carefree world on the outskirts of town. As the new kid in Sand Flats, tomboy Patsy joins him, eager to escape her father’s iron rule and the pain afflicting her wounded brother, a Korean War veteran. Together, Hap and Patsy befriend timid Beah, who struggles to earn the love of her cold mother following the death of her only brother. It takes level headed Raz, the eldest of the only Jewish family in town, to be the conscience of the group. Told through their eyes, this is a tale of a summer of unbridled adventure, which ends unexpectedly and abruptly forces them all into adulthood. As tender as it is intense, Third Willow will transport you to the last summer of your innocence.”
The premise of the book is a good one, unfortunately it gets lost somewhere in the execution. I read to 50% before I stopped reading. As a prolific reader it is a rarity for me to not finish a book.
The character development and plot pace are very slow in coming, and by 50% of the way through I hadn’t seen anything significant develop. The author has taken all this time to show us the children playing games together, and to introduce the characters. Despite this being so long and drawn out, I still don’t feel connected with any of the protagonists. They are just cardboard cut outs, words on a page. The prose is clumsy and needs work to tidy it up and smooth it out. On numerous occasions the writing changes from past to present and back to past tense, without any discernible reason for doing so. The proof reading and editing need revisiting, and the prose needs work to move it from amateurish to professional.
Whilst there are a few nice phrases, on the whole the prose is poor. I didn’t finish the book, and only made it to 50%. This was due to poor plot, pacing and prose. If the author tidied up the manuscript, and cut off a lot of the excess baggage, this could shape up into a good read. Due to the issues mentioned, I feel I can only offer 2.5 out of 5 stars for this book, which I shall round up to 3 stars.
Third Willow has not been approved for addition to the Awesome Indies.