The Heroine: Judy Webster, a young girl born at Woodstock during the turbulent era of hippies and flower children. Raised by her straight-laced, lawyer father, Krik, and her wild, free-spirited hippie mother, Cassie, Judy finds herself torn between the two as their marriage disintegrates, finally culminating to divorce when Cassie runs off to a commune, taking young Judy with her. When Kirk finally rescues Judy from the commune and brings her back to suburban Indiana, Judy struggles to grow up as a normal child in her unorthodox family. Following Judy through her experiences in friendship, first loves and identity crisis, The Sometimes Daughter is ultimately focused on a young girl's journey to adulthood, always leading her back to the mother in whose arms her life began.
The Highs: I absolutely adore the premise of this novel. I love the intricacies of family dramas and The Sometimes Daughter does not disappoint. Judy struggles throughout the book to form an identity, a difficult process when she constantly questions her place in the world, the love of her parents, the effect of her mother's abandonment and the undeniable connection between her and Cassie (whether she wants it to exist or not). This a great book for anyone who feels, like Judy, a little left-out, unloved or alone sometimes.
I also love that this book, though told in first person, does not suffer the sometimes self-absorbed perspective of most teenagers. Instead, Cassie's abandonment also has an effect on Kirk, a kind, protective single father who works hard to support and care for Judy. I felt my heart breaking as Kirk suffers through the novel; his lingering love for his ex-wife is obvious, through the wonderful arrangement of prose by the author that hints at his buried emotions without outright telling the audience. Again, Sherri Wood Emmons displays writing worthy of a creative prose class lesson on "show, don't tell".
As a lover of historical novels, I find the era of the sixties and seventies largely ignored by many authors and I was delighted by the historical frame of reference in this novel. The music of Woodstock, extreme political views and race relations all played a big role in the time period and are used in fascinating and creative ways throughout The Sometimes Daughter.
The Lows: I felt the story ended really bluntly and out of nowhere. I was looking forward to seeing Judy find some sort of resolution within herself and her external conflicts at the end of the story, or at the very least in an epilogue, but this never came to fruition. I really feel this story is lacking an epilogue. Since it follows Judy through her childhood and adolescence, it seems natural to find out where her life takes her as an adult. So I was definitely disappointed that I'm left wondering what happens to poor Judy.
I also was disappointed in the relationship between Judy and her teenage boyfriend, Matt. Though I understand what brought a schism between them, I wish they could have either resolved the conflict (the romantic in me!) or have found some closure. I wish I could have dated Matt in high school!
Final Thoughts: Sherri Wood Emmons is a talented writer and can provide insights into truly fantastic prose for aspiring authors and readers alike. I'd also recommend this book to anyone who loves the Woodstock era!
Rating: The Sometimes Daughter earns eight homemade bread loaves out of ten.
Buy 'The Sometimes Daughter' at the Book Depository here
Connect with author Sherri Wood Emmons here
Photo from here