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Book review: 'Keepers of Blackbird Hill' is a story of family history

By Teri Harman

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 20 2011 11:48 a.m. MDT

"THE KEEPERS OF BLACKBIRD HILL," by Lael Littke, Shadow Mountain, $18.99, 288 pages (f)

Sixteen years ago, Jayda, fled her small hometown of Blackbird Hill to seek adventure and fame in Hollywood. After a mildly successful career as a film and stage star, Jayda is still searching for the thing that will make her happy, make her feel at home.

Her marriage over and future unwritten, Jayda returns to Blackbird Hill after inheriting the family homestead. The century-old home stands proud on the hill, surrounded by beautiful meadows and orchards, but its reign is threatened by real estate developers eager to bring a fancy new development to the sleepy town.

As a child, Jayda felt no attachment to the home or its whispers of strong family history. Not even the Remembering Room with its 200 drawers full of family journals, pictures and papers, had fascinated her. But now, no matter what her cousins and neighbors may say, she cannot bring herself to sell the land. Soon she finds herself gathering support from an unlikely cast of friends and diving in to those 200 drawers in search of a way to save the house on Blackbird Hill. However, Jayda’s task is not an easy one as there are those who will stop at nothing to see the real estate deal go through.

“The Keepers of Blackbird Hill” is an easy-to-read story with a rich message of the importance of family history and preserving the past. The protagonist’s journey to self-discovery through the eyes of her ancestors is one replete with wise advice. However, while the message is strong and timely, the story itself lacks depth. The characters are likable but emotionally superficial, and the plot is predictable. Littke’s writing is clean but lacks uniqueness, the descriptions often a bit hackneyed. That said, fans of the author’s previous work — which includes more than 40 books in the national and LDS markets — will most likely enjoy the book.

Teri Harman is the author of the weekly column, Book Matters, on ksl.com. For book reviews, book suggestions and more book fun, visit book-matters.com. Also find Teri on Facebook (Book Matters - Teri Harman) or Twitter (@BookMattersTeri).

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