+Blog Book Tour+ Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline

Posted Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 by jorielov , , , , 7 Comments

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Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline

Sweet Water

Published By: William Morrow (@WmMorrowBks),
7 July 2014 (reprint – paperback edition)
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Official Author Websites: Site@bakerkline | Facebook
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook Page Count: 320

Converse via: #ChristinaBakerKline

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Sweet Water” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher William Morrow, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

The reason I wanted to be on the tour:

There are moments in our lives where our paths cross with a novel that we have a near-sixth sense about how we will enjoy reading it. This is exactly what happened to me whilst I won a copy of Orphan Train from a contest from Shelf Awareness and received the novel from the author herself. The bits and pieces of my life from that moment in April 2013 to a full score year later were one of the most consuming experiences thus far along on my lifepath. I always had the intention of reading Orphan Train close to when I had received it. Yet. Life ebbed away and took my focus off the novel that I felt I was meant to read. It was one of those books I knew I would acquire even if I had not been able to receive one from the author. I never had the proper chance to follow-up with Ms. Kline; nor explain my absence but to attempt to explain why I had not yet read the story that captured my attention front line and center.

When I learnt of two novels by Kline going on tour with TLC, I knew I had found my way of redeeming myself and of a way back to Orphan Train! Part of the reason I had ended up holding off reading the novel is because I knew it was going to be an emotional read for me as I’m a Prospective Adoptive Mum. The fate of orphans is very near and dear to my maternal heart, and the plight of those children who were sent out on orphan trains always tugs at the core of my soul.

I had felt a connection to not only the story within the sleeper bestseller but I had felt one with the writer who penned the story, which is why I had written her a heartfelt personal note at the time. This entire year I’ve been a book blogger I have learnt how to yield to stress and how to read stories which are emotionally gutting yet intellectually satisfying whilst going through incredible circumstances that otherwise might only lend themselves to beach reads and uplifting romances. I found that I have the ability to write with a clarity that I had not had in previous years whilst juggling through intense personal stress and I found that the best grace in the world as a writer and reader is the direct focus of stories and the writers who create them.

Christina Baker Kline is one writer who crossed my path at a time I could not devout my heart to read her stories, nor approach them with a mindfulness they deserved. It is only one full year later, but this is my way of not only thanking her for the work she has put forward and into the hands of all of us, but a small gesture of acknowledgement from a reader who was captivated by her sincerity, creativity, and immersive research she conducts to breathe life into her characters and stories. I am the blessed one this year, as this is my second chance at discovering what is inside Kline’s body of work.

Note: There are a total of four novels by Christina Baker Kline on tour with TLC Book Tours, however, Orphan Train is not amongst them. I am going to read Orphan Train in September for my own edification and pleasure. I want to take my time to absorb into it and soak through the emotions I know I shall greet when I open the pages of a story I have not stopped thinking about since it arrived.

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Book Synopsis:

Christina Baker KlineFrom the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train comes a novel about buried secrets and the redemptive power of forgiveness

Cassie Simon is a struggling artist living in New York City. When she receives a call from a magistrate telling her she has inherited sixty acres of land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, from her grandfather, whom she never knew, she takes it as a sign: it’s time for a change. She moves to the small Southern town where her mother, Ellen, grew up—and where she died tragically when Cassie was three.

From the moment she arrives in Sweetwater, Cassie is overwhelmed by the indelible mark her mother’s memory left behind. As she delves into the thicket of mystery that surrounds her mother’s death, Cassie begins to discover the desperate measures of which the human heart is capable.

Author Biography:

Christina Baker Kline was born in England and raised in Maine. The author of five novels, including the runaway bestseller Orphan Train, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, New York University, and Fordham. She lives outside of New York City.

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A novel which shifts both forward & backward through time:

Quite cleverly ahead of each new chapter featuring Cassie’s current life and affairs, there is a flashback sequence to a darker moment in the past; of a time where a woman lived inside of a marriage that was not quite as loving and centered in joy as Cassie’s own life was lived. A woman whose voice is not entirely quiet nor passive, but illuminating a darker truth about herself, her situation, and where her path led her. Her life spills out in small passages of emotional angst and an intuitive glimmer of introspection. This ‘other woman’ who is living a radically different existence to Cassie is connected to Cassie’s world and time-line, even if we are not entirely certain how this could be, as we first begin to delve between the chapters and the context.

Further in, we realise that we are reading a sequence of memories being shared with us by Cassie’s grandmother, Constance (later known as Clyde) who raised her mother Ellen. Ellen was one of three children Constance had with her husband Amory, and it is within their story that part of Cassie’s past I felt would intervene on her future; as families tend to have threads of time stretching between generations, as much as they have secrets that have a tendency of bubbling back to the surface. Constance has her own way of speaking and expressing her grief whilst dealing with her in-affectionate husband and the oddities of having to deal with life when you felt you were living within a love centered romance.

My Review of Sweet Water:

A shocking revelation is at the start of this novel, intermixed with intense remorse and regret only the heart of a guilty man bent over events he could barely believe he was accountable for making could endure. A snippet of a flashback memory eluding to a darker sin worse than most vices, is a bit of a preamble for the how we arrive inside the footsteps of Cassie Simon; a grand-daughter on the whispers of an inheritance from a grandfather she never knew. The compassionate way in which Kline delves into the layers of personal grief and the innocuous curiosities of who a loved one was whilst they were alive, endear you into the heart of the main character. Cassie was raised by her father in the wake of her mother’s death as a girl, but as she grew, she never let go of an ache to know her mother a bit more than through name and ties of blood. Her father was not only loving and kind in his grace to grant his daughter the space to fly when her wings were ready, but he endeavoured to move on – to create a life past where his life with his wife left off. A singular blessing out of tragedy, as he allowed them both to live rather than to fall into the despair of the loss itself.

Except that her father carved out a life which was meant to be found fulfilling inside of the grace of a routine of being a restaurateur; whereas Cassie was clogged down and repressed from staying with a gallery owner long past her due. The appeal of an unexpected inheritance lit inside a glow of hope, warmed by the intensity of her desire to stop the clock from dictating her every move against the hours that melted into each other as she lived her life as though it were ordained. She is caught between exiting the life she’s made whilst living in the carefree moment of passion and embracing the unknown landscape that could await her if she dared to think outside the structure her life became. She’s a woman who has lost sight of herself and is attempting to not only resolve the past, but to walk back into her own being with a better sense of who she is as a person.

During Cassie’s road trip from Brooklyn to Tennessee, I had to put my own memories of travelling through the same landscape out of view, as it was curious how Cassie saw that bit of America a bit differently than I had myself. Except for her ability to see the clogged smog of the industrial age’s stamp on the general area of which she drove through to reach her destination. I must confess, even I was a bit surprised at how industrial and grimy parts of Pennsylvania were as you dip further into the interior from the highway. Other bits were quite true as well, such as the friendliness of being greeted as a traveller from elsewhere at petrol stations and dives, where you unexpectedly find the best food. Yet, these bits were not exactly mentioned inside the novel, but they bubbled back in my own mind’s eye as I read Cassie’s descriptions of her solo road trip towards her mother’s hometown. I was thinking that perhaps our perceptions and observations of where we travel can sometimes be either clouded over or clarified by our emotional state at the time in which we pass through certain areas. My memories of the road are underlit with a brighter sense of awe, wonder, and joy, whereas Cassie’s observations are more of an underfoot darkening at the edges, as though the world she is driving through is holding a bit back from her line of sight. A foreboding for what may come, I’d imagine.

By the time Cassie was settled into her grandmother’s house, I understood the flashbacks ahead of her sections in the story; for Clyde her grandmother was a second narrator of the story; ebbing us further towards the truth but in a way that allowed Cassie’s voice to be a bit stronger and focused upon. A family she was curious about due to her mother’s premature death only arched back into anguish when she realised it was the one family who would not be willing to provide answers about the mother she barely knew. Families like to hold onto their secrets, the hidden spaces of time that are vacuumed away into the folds of a mind’s memory; secreted away to hold back from the next generation an understanding of what happened and why it went the way it did. Sweet Water is a novel that explores the depth of how far Cassie’s family would go to hold the truth of her mother’s death from view. And, how incredibly strong you have to be when the truth you sought originally is the one burden you wished you did not have to hold.

Christina Baker Kline paints portraits of humanity at their most vulnerable:

Kline has a unique way of delving into the psychological mind of her characters, etching out what gives them the most emotional stress and angst, whilst attempting to right the wrongs or at the very least, explain the reasoning behind their protective hearts as she moves the story forward. Her unique style of narrative is spilt between the reality of one character (Cassie) attempting to forge a connection with her maternal relations and the narrative voice of her grandmother (Clyde) who is attempting to sort out why her grand-daughter wants to stir up ghosts of the past. It is a family who is partially dysfunctional and partially reclusive and elusive to outsiders; even if they are kin by blood. The characteristics of her maternal relations is to get on with living, worry not about the past, and do whatever you have to do to survive what alights in your life as best as you can.

Kline puts you inside their shoes without apology, giving you an earful of how they see the world, how they assess their points of view, and endear you to their quirky nature before you even realise you’ve read two parts out of three! The style of the story is laid out a bit differently in that, as foresaid, the story is revealed in an alternating method of flashback memories through Clyde and present-day experiences of Cassie. There are no formal chapter headings which give this style of novel a wave and a nod towards a personal journal. You do not always have a frame of reference for time nor of continuation of where the pen of the writer is taking you,… you drift in the cosy comfort of the story-teller who is giving you a tale you cannot quite shake and are thankful you spent time reading.

One thing I kept reminding myself of as I read the novel, is that this story is a lot like the ancestral documentary “Who Do You Think You Are?”, where more than once I have seen the startling truths revealed of ancestors who were never known or known with little insight about until the day their descendants went on the show. We all hope the people we are connected to will be above board, honest, and lead decent lives, but there are times where the lines blur, people make mistakes, and sometimes their blunderments can test the limits of our sanity. The interesting part for me is how people adjust to what they discover, how they take the information they learn from the past, and how it either re-defines who they are OR becomes a part of who they are from a distance without a rippling effect in the present. Kline’s novel is a bit like unravelling a history within your own family; a history that time was attempting to keep in the dark.

Note: I did mark ‘Vulgarity in Literature’ as I always do make a mention of which novels I read are inclusive of stronger language than I readily prefer, however, the odd quirk is that even the use of the one word I’d rather never read in narrative story-telling much less overhear in a motion picture was only used a few times, and a flippant insertion of a few other words could be overlooked with a blink of your eye. Why they were used at all was a curious wonderment for me; as any other word might have had the same effect given that the entire heart of the novel is a spoken narrative of one woman’s journey back through the past to discover who is she in the present. A woman who grew without the grounding of a mother, and whose roots were curiously absent in her life. She needed foundation, understanding, and a knowing of where she came from in order to better understand where she was going. The language was such a small fraction of this story it was barely noticeable. 

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This blog tour stop was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:

TLC Book Tours | Tour Host

click-through to follow the blogosphere tour.

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Comments make me smile! Let’s start a conversation! I appreciate your visit & look forward to your return! I do moderate the comment threads; do not worry if the comment is delayed in being seen! Drop back soon!

Reader Interactive Question:

Have you ever alighted inside of a novel that you unexpectedly were swallowed up inside? Taken root inside the shoes of the character, where their life was full of emotional upheaval and partially an exploration of how to create a life shift that will alleviate their disillusion with where their life was heading; to find a different way of living and carve out their own little peace of happiness? Did you ever read a novel that surprised you?

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Sweet Water”, author photograph, book synopsis and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Buy links on Scribd excerpt are not affiliated with Jorie Loves A Story. Book Excerpt was able to be embedded due to codes provided by Scribd.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 5 August, 2014 by jorielov in A Father's Heart, Adoption, Adulterous Affair, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Bookish Discussions, Brothers and Sisters, Death of a Sibling, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Novel, Disillusionment in Marriage, Domestic Violence, Family Drama, Family Life, Father-Daughter Relationships, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Literary Fiction, Mother-Daughter Relationships, New York City, Pottery, Psychological Suspense, Scribd, Sculpture, Single Fathers, Small Towne USA, Taboo Relationships & Romance, Throwing Pots, TLC Book Tours, Unexpected Inheritance, Vulgarity in Literature, Widows & Widowers, Working with Clay

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7 responses to “+Blog Book Tour+ Sweet Water by Christina Baker Kline

  1. Wow! Sounds like a really emotional book. I think you’ll really enjoy Orphan Train when you read it, and I’ll be curious to see how the two compare as they seem to have similar themes.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

    • Hallo Trish,

      Yes, Sweet Water is a very emotional read, but what gave it such an underlit of beauty is the manner in which Kline expresses her thoughts and evokes a presence in her characters. It breaks barriers in the art of how she crafts her story and how she allows her characters to illuminate the pages she gives them. I was most captivated by her sense of allowing the story to unfold in such an emotional way with the backbone current of psychology etching into the crevices. I have a feeling your quite right about your observation I will soak into Orphan Train! A novel that has been in the forefront of my mind since I first knew of it’s presence.

    • Hallo Ms. Donna!

      I finally turnt the last corner on my recovery over the weekend — I will never forget the wolf spider, but I am thankful that I am clear of the allergy, the side effects, and the residual bits which made overcoming it a bit of an extended time of rest! I am back into the groove of reading & reviewing the books which enchant my eye and bewitch my heart as you can see! I have a lot of inbound books to my blog, as I had to adjust my posting schedules from July into August! Thankfully, I am celebrating getting caught up and sharing my thoughts with everyone who drops by! Thanks for your well wishes, thoughts of concern, and follow-up! I do appreciate it! And, I can finally get back to responding to comments as they come in! I have missed our interactions!

      Not to worry — when time allows, I know you will enjoy reading the fuller scope of the review. You’re always welcome back but I know your working so very hard to launch your own blog & site! Cannot wait for the ‘birth’ day to arrive for you!

      • Actually, Jorie, I haven’t even TOUCHED my blogs! I’ve been busy doing work for submissions. Just FedExed a dummy book to an editor today. NOW I’m hoping I can concentrate on the blogs! lol :D

        • Ooh, my dear goodness!

          I can understand distractions — I tweeted a bit about my current blight of woe — settling back into the joy of being a book blogger tonight w/o the fear of losing files and/or my computer! :) Is a ‘dummy book’ code for a ‘final draft’ copy of a manuscript? (new term!) OR is it a submission for an instruction manual of a similar name? Could go either way, really! lol

          I wish you Godspeed on your blogs — I know how much work & heart you’ve already put into their conception. Here’s to focusing on getting them *live!*


          And, fingers crossed the editor likes your submission!

          • Yes, well, it seems life is one BIG distraction! lol Submissions are much more important than the blogs, so they came first. Today I had a face painting gig at a block party and loved the people. They asked me to hang out so I did, and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon :)

            A dummy book is a handmade version of a picture book. It’s typically submitted when you are an author/illustrator illustrating your own picture book. You compose it to the proper page count, with page turns and sketches of possible illustrations. Typically you include 3 finished pieces of artwork in the book. This one was particularly challenging because it’s an interactive board book and the cutting I had to do to construct it was VERY tedious.

            And thanks! I hope she likes it, too! And then if SHE likes it, hopefully acquisitions will agree! :D

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