Book review: 'With a Name like Love' is a remarkable story of love, hope

By Teri Harman

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 9 2011 11:23 a.m. MST

"WITH A NAME LIKE LOVE," by Tess Hilmo, Macmillan, $16.99, 249 pages (f)

Olivene Love is the oldest daughter of traveling preacher, Everlasting Love and his sweet wife, Susanna. Her family lives on the wind, traveling from place to place spreading the good word.

When her father pulls their trailer into the small town of Binder, Ark., Ollie expects that the short three-day stay will be just like all the others: lots of hard work, nameless faces in the crowd and then back on the road.

Tired of the nomad lifestyle, she wishes things could be different and normal, but knows her father is born to travel the road, just as his father before him and his before that.

On her first day in Binder, Ollie meets skinny, dirty Jimmy Koppel and learns that his mother is in jail for the murder of his father. Jimmy insists that she is innocent, but Ollie seems to be the only one who believes him. In a town quick to judge and eager to accuse, what hope do two 13-year-old kids have of bringing justice to an outcast woman?

Despite the odds against her, Ollie's strong desire for a friend and her want to stay in one fixed place, pushes her forward into the mystery of one bad man's murder. With the help of her wise and caring parents and her four sisters, Ollie is determined to redeem her new frog-loving, kind-hearted friend and his mother.

Highland author Tess Hilmo's love of classic Southern gospel music inspired her remarkable debut novel for young readers.

"Growing up, my mother would often sing songs like 'Amazing Grace' and 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot.' This novel is a tribute to that music and to the message of hope, love and endurance it conveys," she wrote.

Ollie's story is that rare kind of book that warms every inch of the heart, pulls the lips into a smile and leaves a feeling of wonderment when at last the final page is turned.

She is a character to be treasured and her father, the Reverend Love, gifts the story many pearls of wisdom. Not only are each of the characters expertly developed, but the quiet, glorious family bonds combined with the triumphs of love and hope make "With a Name like Love" a must-read.

Hilmo's writing is a complete pleasure to read and her content clean. Young readers and adults will enjoy and celebrate this perfectly lovely book.

Teri Harman writes a bi-weekly reading and literacy column, Book Matters, for ksl.com and the Deseret News. For book reviews, book suggestions and more book fun, her blog is at book-matters.com.

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