I just reviewed Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons for www.bookbitch.com, but it deserves a much longer review than I can do for that site. It's a wonderful book, with a protagonist you want to hold close to your heart, and hope Emily Parmeter has a happy life. Here's the review of www.bookbitch.com.
"Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons – Disfunctional families is a favorite motif of so many southern novels, and Siddons’ new book is no exception. Emily Parmeter is the young protagonist of this coming-of-age story. The book starts when Emily is eleven, and ends immediately after her thirteenth birthday, but in that time, she watches her family and her life change. At eleven, she has already faced the disappearance of her mother and the suicide death of her favorite brother. Her father and other brothers are only distant figures in her life. Her life revolves around her dog, Elvis, memories of her brother, and her life on Sweetwater Plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. She is unwilling to accepts the changes in her body and life until “the summer of Lulu Foxworth.” The troubled twenty-year-old brings a new knowledge to everyone on the plantation as she casts her spell over the Parmeter family, showing Emily’s father the potential for his dog business, showing Emily the potential of a polished life and education, and sharing her darkest secrets with Emily. Since Siddons tells Emily’s story through her eyes, the reader cares about the land and the plantation life, but most of all, the reader cares about this child who is forced to grow up too quickly."
What I didn't get a chance to say in a short review is that Siddons brings the Sweetwater Creek area to life through Emily's eyes. She has a love of the river and creek, and all the land around it, which gives her some of her strength. Towards the end of the book, she tells her father, "Do you remember that time you had to come get me at camp in the mountains, and everybody thought I was just homesick and being a baby? It wasn't that at all. It was that I just couldn't breathe away from saltwater, from the river and the creek. I still can't, really."
Emily will make it. She has her family, Elvis, Buddy, and the strength she draws from the land. Siddons has taken the motif of disfunctional family and southern love of their land, and made it her own.