The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MOURNING FREE (The Olivia Series #3) By Yael Politis

Whatever Happened to Mourning Free? Book 3 of the Olivia series by Yael PolitisPublisher:  Amazon Digital Services, Inc
Release Date:  September 28, 2014
Pages:  425
Genre:  Historical Fiction

About the Book:  Note from the Author 
Book 3 answers the question asked in its title and provides a narrative account of what happened to Olivia, Mourning, and Little Boy, but it is not a continuation of Book 2 in the same sense that Book 2 continues Book 1. Whatever Happened to Mourning Free? skips forward three generations and focuses on descendants of the Killion and Free families, who still face many of the problems with which Olivia and Mourning contended. 
Readers who are impatient to find out what happened to Olivia and Mourning can feel free to skip ahead to that section, and then come back to the beginning section about Charlene, Reeves, and Charlie. Just search for the following text: Detroit, Michigan – May 24, 1843 

Book Description:
It's 1967 and Charlene Connor has just graduated from the University of Michigan, without her "Mrs." Her mother recently passed away and soon afterwards her father fled the silence to a new job on the other side of the state. So Charlene is going "home" to what is now an empty house. 

Two things make this long, hot summer bearable: Reeves Valenti – the high school sweetheart she left behind – and the lawyer who unexpectedly knocks on her door, bringing information about the woman she idolizes - her great-great-great Aunt Olivia Killion. Charlene can't wait to get Olivia's journals from him and finally learn what happened to Olivia and her friend and partner Mourning Free; she doesn't know that the answer to that question will deepen the connection she feels to Olivia and bring a new person -- and a fundamental change -- into her life. 

Is It Autobiographical? 
No. Just for fun, I gave Charlene the shell of my life. I grew up in the Foundation, attended Edsel Ford High School, and began my college education in Ann Arbor. So on paper, Charlene and I have a lot in common. In fact, am I anything like her? No. Is my life anything like hers? In my dreams.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Dearborn, Michigan – 1967 - Charlene Connor has in her possession her great-great-great Aunt Olivia’s diary. Having read the journal many times, Charlene felt a deep connection to her Aunt Olivia, and wondered many times what had become of Olivia and Mourning Free. Charlene knew Olivia had been active in the Underground Railroad and ran a boarding house called OK Accommodations. Had Mourning been with her at the boarding house? Why had they left the farm? Where did she come up with the money to buy a boarding house? These questions are answered and many more revelations develop as the story unfolds and goes back in time to 1842. 
The two timelines were integrated smoothly into one storyline. It is amazing how little times had changed from the 1840’s to the 1960’s where racism still lingered.

The strong characters displayed hope, determination, and courage. I just couldn’t get enough of Olivia and Mourning, having been connected to them from Book 1 & 2 of the series. Just amazing characters! The characters of Charlene and Charlie were realistic and complex, and I was eventually drawn into their world and the midst of their drama. They were portrayed in depth. 

I must admit that this book certainly was not what I expected, and that isn’t a negative comment. I did have a bit of a problem getting into the storyline early on with Charlene’s story, but when the time changed to 1840, I became fully engrossed. The story eventually shifts back to the 1960’s with the racial riots in Detroit and I became fully engaged to the storyline. 

This book was beautifully written and the author certainly delivered a satisfying closure to this superb series. I highly recommend, but be sure to read Books 1 & 2 of the Olivia Series first. My rating is 4.5 stars.

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for my honest opinion and review. All opinions shared are my own. 

Yael Politis
About the Author:  I grew up in Michigan, but have lived all my adult life in Israel where I have worked as a dishwasher, secretary, librarian, office manager, agricultural laborer, management systems analyst, English teacher, Hebrew-English translator, technical writer, marketing writer, and proposal writer.

I have just completed two new historical novels: Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is (Books 1 and 2 of the Olivia Series). Both take place in Michigan and Pennsylvania in the 1840s. I love the challenge of recreating daily life in another time and place and based many of the details in Olivia, Mourning and The Way the World Is on letters and journals passed down through my family, over seven generations of lives lived in the Midwest. I received a great deal of insight from my sister, may she rest in peace, who lived in a fairly isolated log home, hunted her own land, and was just as independent and stubborn as Olivia.
Both books are available on Amazon.