The Wiregrass
by Pam Webber

She Writes Press, 2015. ISBN 978-1-631-52943-6.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 05/26/2015

Fiction: Mainstream

The Wiregrass was like no other place in the South, at least according to Momma. Named for the spidery, razor blade-like grass that thrived in the hellishly hot summers, the region was known for the uniqueness of its water. Belowground was an enormous underground lake that supplied clear water to hundreds of creeks, lakes and swimming holes. Aboveground, fierce thunderstorms frequently blanketed the region, flooding streets and pushing muddy water through the crisscrossing rivers toward the Gulf of Mexico.

Nettie and her cousins have been spending summer vacations in the Southern Wiregrass region of Alabama for as long as they can remember. It is an idyllic life for the cousins, who enjoy the love and care of Ain't Pitty who opens her home to them every summer. They avail themselves of all that the Wiregrass has to offer: fishing, swimming, good food, and the wild abandon of children out from under parental scrutiny.

But the summer of 1969 is different for them—and for the town's residents. Strange goings-on raise suspicion for law enforcement and residents alike. Odd sightings by the cousins spark over-active imaginations. And for Nettie, a chance meeting with new-comer Mitchell awakens feelings she's never had before.

While the cousins enjoy life in the Wiregrass, not all of Ain't Pitty's neighbors enjoy the pranks they play on unsuspecting victims. When they ramp up the antics, some neighbors are no longer unsuspecting. With neighbors accusing them of being the culprits for everything that goes wrong, the cousins try to take the spotlight off of themselves while never abandoning their own pranking efforts.

Webber has crafted a summer setting that is both magical and dangerous in this profound coming-of-age story. I laughed out loud. I held my breath. I anxiously pressed on for "just one more page" (page after page, after page) and I cried. She has touched me on many levels in this, her first novel. Its ending has haunted me for days since finishing it. It is a book I'll not soon forget.

For this reviewer, The Wiregrass was reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Sawyer, and Of Mice and Men yet, all the while, it was its very own unique story written with a large measure of tenderness and grace. What a privilege to have the opportunity to read this Advance Reader Copy of a book that is surely destined to become a best-seller!

Pam Webber is a nurse practitioner who lives in Virginia with her family. She has contributed to a nursing textbook and written several articles. The Wiregrass is her first novel. It has been nominated for IndieBound's Indie Next List. Visit her website.

Check out our interview with the author of The Wiregrass.

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