About a week ago, I was wide awake and searching my bookshelf for a book to take to bed with me. It was about 10pm, and I figured I would be asleep after a chapter or so. My pick? Mountain Whippoorwill by Suellen Holland. Published in 1985, this is an oldie but a goody. I was pleasantly surprised to find the old, tattered copy of this short novel on my shelf. Having read it tons of times when I was a young girl, I thought it would be a fun read down memory lane.
Mountain Whippoorwill tells the story of Tara, a teenage girl who lives with her bad-tempered, widower father in the Ozarks. A budding fiddle player, Tara is coming into her own as she comes of age. Readers watch her as she accompanies her teacher, and neighbor, to bluegrass jamborees where she overcomes her nerves to play and wow the crowds. Her coming of age is further developed when she meets Dusty, a fellow musician. As Tara learns more about herself and her music, she gains confidence and falls in love with Dusty. As the story unfolds, Tara faces embarrassing teenage moments and more loss in her life. Her triumphs prevail, however, and the story ends on a high note.
Throughout this beautiful story, Holland weaves the lines of “The Mountain Whippoorwill,” a poem by Steven Vincent Benet. She describes the musical moments and brings the musicians to life. If you listen hard, you can almost hear the music coming off the pages of this beautifully written story. I highly recommend this novel, which I stayed up half the night to read again. It is hard to put down, and it will leave your feeling warm and good about the world.