STARRED REVIEW
October 08, 2019

Surprise Lily

By Sharelle Byars Moranville
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Sharelle Byars Moranville, author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novel 27 Magic Words, pens a complicated family story set against an idyllic backdrop.

Rose Lovell adores her life on her family’s farm. Although her mother, Iris, left when Rose was just a baby, Rose has never wanted for anything. All she needs to feel content is her beloved grandmother, Ama; their dog, Myrtle; and the natural wonders of the countryside right outside her door.

So when her mother mysteriously shows back up at Ama’s birthday party, Rose is less than pleased. In fact, she’s terrified that Iris’ presence will anger Ama and fracture the perfect bond she shares with Rose. All Rose wants is for Iris to leave as quickly as she came. But life on the Lovell farm was not as blissful for previous generations as it is for Rose, and Rose’s mother has some family secrets to share with her daughter that may change everything, whether Rose likes it or not.

Equal parts heart-swelling and heartbreaking, Surprise Lily is a multigenerational family saga full of language that perfectly evokes the many wonders of the natural world. The narrative spans decades, allowing readers to form attachments to each of the Lovell girls as they experience their stories firsthand. The story touches on the highs and lows of the Lovells as a family and of each Lovell girl individually, exploring subjects such as parental neglect and mental health with sympathy and care. The relationships between the girls and women of the Lovell family are the novel’s heartbeats, and though some are more whole than others, love and hope connect them all.

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Surprise Lily

Surprise Lily

By Sharelle Byars Moranville
Holiday House
ISBN 9780823442645

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