As head librarian of the Sweetgum Public Library, Eugenie won’t stand to see one of her library’s knitting books defiled by wayward, thirteen year old Hannah Simmons. As a form of “punishment”, Eugenie tells Hannah that she must pay for the damages by helping out at the library once a week, as well as joining the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, which meets once a month at the Sweetgum Church to discuss books and knitting. Hannah’s entry into the reading group causes a bit of upheaval, especially when the original reading list is tossed out and replaced with childhood favorites such as Pollyanna, Heidi and A Little Princess. Hannah’s silent and sulky entry into the lives of women generations older than year reveals that there is more than meets the eye in the sleepy town of Sweetgum.
Beth Pattillo, author of Jane Austen Ruined My Life, is a very charismatic author, and I think she has a real talent for description and creating a comfortable pace with her stories. That being said, I felt that this book was too Hallmark-esque for me. It was very sweet, and very superficial. The novel starts out with a completely fascinating character of Hannah, a child of a neglectful teen mother who lives in a trailer and lives in constant fear of her mother’s current slimey boyfriend. Other than this introduction to Hannah, she virtually disapears from the book despite Eugenie’s attempts to take her under her wing. I would have enjoyed seeing the development of their relationship, as Eugenie did have a powerful and good influence on Hannah, but we never see it develop. It seems like the person that Hannah forms the best bond with in the Knit Lit Society is not the person she calls for help later on in the novel. Except for Camille, the other characters are self-absorbed with selfish and petty complaints and issues that seem so trivial compared to Hannah’s plight.
Although this book is Christian Fiction, it is not preachy, and in fact, Patillo goes out of her way to say whenever possible that Eugenie does not attend church, and obstinantely refuses to go, although its never really clear why she avoids it like the plague. All the women carry a secret with them, and somehow their lives are all intertwined in a very clever and intricate manner. I would have enjoyed some more drama in this book, I felt that too much was just swept under the rug and not explored.
This book is probably a good beach read, if you want something dramatic but upbeat at the same time.The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Patillo WaterBrook Press, 2008 ISBN 1400073948 335 pages