Monday, March 31, 2014

Book Review: Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca
March 18, 2014
Merit Press
254 pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Content: Clean
Source: Complementary copy from publisher for Honest review
Book Blurb:
The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter, trying to avoid her father's periodic violent rages. When the family's barn burns down, her father lays the blame on Becky, and her own mother tells her to run for it. Run she does, hopping into an empty freight car. There, in a duffel bag, Becky finds an abandoned baby girl, only hours old. After years of tending to her siblings, sixteen-year-old Becky knows just what a baby needs. This baby needs a mother. With no mother around, Becky decides, at least temporarily, this baby needs her. When Becky hops off the train in a small Georgia town, it's with baby "Georgia" in her arms. When she meets Rosie, an eccentric thrift-shop owner, who comes to value and love Becky as no one ever has, Becky rashly claims the baby as her own. Not everyone in town is as welcoming as Rosie, though. Many suspect Becky and her baby are not what they seem. Among the doubters is a beautiful, reclusive woman with her own terrible loss and a long history with Rosie. As Becky's life becomes entangled with the lives of the people in town, including a handsome boy who suspects Becky is hiding something from her past, she finds her secrets more difficult to keep. Becky should grab the baby and run, but her newfound home and job with Rosie have given Becky the family she's never known. Despite her guilt over leaving her mother alone, she is happy for the first time. But it's a happiness not meant to last. When the truth comes out, Becky has the biggest decision of her life to make. Should she run away again? Should she stay--and fight? Or lie? What does the future hold for Becky and Georgia? With a greatness of heart and a stubborn insistence on hope found in few novels of any genre, "Providence" proves that home is where you find it, love is an active verb, and family is more than just a word.
My Review:

Reading Providence was like taking a stroll down a country road. Enjoying the beauty all around. Not knowing what is around the corner, but looking forward to the surprise and the adventure. I felt like I was walking amongst friends, neither in a rush to get ahead nor wanting to stay behind, but simply wanting to enjoy every moment I could with them on our journey. Walking in Becky's shoes felt just like that.

Becky is a sweet, country girl, in incredibly sad circumstances, who not only is without a home, but has stumbled upon an abandoned baby, bonding the two of them instantly. To most this would be a daunting predicament, but to Becky, she simply forges ahead. No matter what happens, Becky is a fighter, determined to make the most of anything that comes her way, not wanting to be a burden on anyone. Her journey, discovering not only new friends, but finding the strength of who she is, and the value of her worth.

Becky also meets some wonderful people, creating her own family along the way. Rosie is a true gem, and won my heart. John is subtle but sweet, and I only wish there was more of him. There are others who will test your perceptions of them, but they all serve a purpose. And the story grows and blooms and culminates into a touching, heartfelt ending, shining with a beautiful message. It's also a nice, clean YA story, which was refreshing.

More dialogue, particularly on Becky's part, would have made this story even better for me. We get a lot of Becky's thoughts, but don't quite get enough of her verbal interactions with people, and for me that limited her personality. It needed stronger showing, less telling. This stilted some of the character interactions, and hindered the minor romance. A bit more to the ending, perhaps an epilogue, would have also been great.

But overall, I enjoyed this sweet story, and its change of pace. And it's refreshing to read a YA book I'm comfortable recommending to my friend's daughter.

3-1/2 to 4 STARS

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