Monday, July 29, 2013

Review and Giveaway of Kim Boykin's 'The Wisdom of Hair'

Goodreads Description:

Life can be beautiful, but it takes a little work...“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.

With the help of a beloved teacher, she moves to a coastal town and enrolls in the Davenport School of Beauty. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Cathcart, she learns the art of fixing hair, and becomes fast friends with the lively Sara Jane Farquhar, a natural hair stylist. She also falls hard for handsome young widower Winston Sawyer, who is drowning his grief in bourbon. She couldn’t save Mama, but maybe she can save him.

As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately… forgiveness.

About Author:

Kim Boykin learned about women and their hair in her mother's beauty shop in a tiny South Carolina town. She loves to write stories about strong Southern women, because that's what she knows. Kim is an accomplished public speaker, serves on the board of the South Carolina Writers' Workshop, and edits the organization's monthly newsletter. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, three dogs, and 126 rose bushes.
My Review:
It's been quite a while since I have read chick lit (I don't love that term, by the way). I don't have anything against the genre or anything. I have just been on a roll of reading a lot of young adult contemporary, dystopian, and fantasy books. I'm glad I read this book because I ended up LOVING it. I couldn't put it down from the very beginning.
It tells the story of Zora May Adams. She is a 19 year old girl living in the Appalachian mountains of South Carolina in 1983. She comes from a poor family. Her mother is a bit of a crazy, slutty drunk. And her father died many years before. She has always felt responsible for taking care of her mother, but on her nineteenth birthday she has decided she's had enough. With the help of one of her high school teachers she moves to Davenport, a slightly bigger small town in South Carolina. She lives for free in the apartment above her teacher's friend's garage and enrolls in beauty school. She becomes instant friends with a girl in her class named Sara Jane and soon finds herself crushing on her teacher's friend whose apartment she lives in. His name is Winston and it turns out he is a widowed professor who also happens to be a bit of a lush. Zora goes on to be quite talented at fixing hair and makes a new family for herself with Sara Jane and her tight knit family. She eventually begins to have a sexual relationship with Winston, but he refuses to give her the real loving relationship she craves. Throughout the story she faces up to the hurt and anger her mother has caused her and grows into a stronger person. I won't give away all of the details, but her life changes and she goes through obstacles before finally becoming the person she has always yearned to be.
I'm not sure what it is about books that take place in the south, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for them. Zora and her story were both touching and uplifting. It's been a while since I've read a book where a character grows in such a subtle, but profound way. Throughout her journey in this book she learns a lot of important life lessons about love and forgiveness, but it's not at all cheesy or obnoxious. As a reader it was easy to see Zora's mistakes, but at the same time they were mistakes all people have a tendency to make. I related to her relationship with Winston. It was harsh and frustrating, but so many relationships are. It was realistic. And her friendship with Sara Jane and her family was incredibly sweet and authentic. It made me wish I had my very own Sara Jane.
It's been quite a while since I read a book in which the most important relationship wasn't a romance. This book really stressed the importance of friendship and making your own family. In the end Zora's new family were the ones that were there for her and through them she was able to let go of her anger toward her mother. Letting go of that anger allowed her to move on and make something better out of her life.
'The Wisdom of Hair' was both moving and inspirational. When I arrived at the end, all too soon, I was left with a smile on my face. Boykin's writing is smooth and well organized. Between her loveable characters, well chosen words, and beautiful story; I couldn't help but fall in love with Zora May Adams and all of the good people that took her in and showed her what life should and could be. This book is the perfect summer read; guaranteed to warm your heart.
My Rating: