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Just South of Home: 06/26/19

Just South of Home

Just South of Home by Karen Strong is a middle grade cold case mystery with a supernatural twist. Sarah is looking forward to spending her first summer free from her grandmother's strict watch to read science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis. But all those plans are tossed out when cousin Janie is forced to stay the summer while her mother is in Hollywood for a screen test.

Janie is a city girl. She's used to the finer things and staying in a small rural town is not her idea of fun. She also prone to taking mementos even if that means shoplifting. Sarah realizes she's going to be spending her entire summer keeping her cousin out of trouble.

A new girl with big ideas doesn't believe in superstitions. So when she hears about the ruins of a church burned down by the Klan and now believed to be haunted by haints, she has to see it. Sarah gives in and takes her and it's at this point that the book goes from realistic to supernatural fiction. The place is haunted. And when Janie takes home an old locket they draw the ire of the haints.

The bulk of this book is the aftermath of that initial visit to the church ruins. Janie and Sarah learn to work together to find a solution to their problem. They also learn the history of the fire and solve the mystery of a missing relative.

Strong populates her book with well rounded, believable characters. The relationship between Sarah's mother and Mrs. Greene (Sarah's grandmother) is especially fascinating. Mrs. Greene is set in her ways and old fashioned. Why she is the way she is, is revealed over the course of the book. Meanwhile, Sarah's mother is a modern woman, a lawyer, and far more liberal in how she treats the children.

The novel also sits in the road narrative spectrum. As the entire family is involved at one point or another in solving the problem with the haints, they are the traveler (33). With the haints being tied to the history of the town and the family's personal history, the destination is uhoria (CC). Finally the route taken is offroad as the area around the destination is overgrown and left to ruin (66). Put all together, Just South of Home is the story of a family going offroad to uhoria.

Five stars

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 18:44:51

trin carl

Sounds like a great book. Love me some family-based stories.

Comment #2: Wednesday, July 03, 2019 at 19:09:00


It is. I hope you get a chance to read it.

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