Book Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen is known for writing novels with a touch of something extra, something magical. I am a big fan of her writing, and was very excited to win a free copy of First Frost in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway. I was not disappointed with the book.

First Frost is a sweet story of finding where you belong. Actually, it’s a story about a lot of things; there are several little almost-cliché phrases like that that I could use to describe what it is about, but that was the one that stuck out the most to me. It tells the stories of three related women, all at different points of their lives yet still looking for some missing puzzle piece as to who they are. In typical Sarah Addison Allen fashion, it is also about an apple tree that blooms at the wrong time of the year and has an attitude, an odd old house that will not let certain people open its doors sometimes, and a quaint little North Carolina town full of secrets. It is a feel-good story, but also a gentle nudge to the reader that being honest and willing to ask for help is more important than pretending to be who and what everyone expects.

I greatly admire Allen’s ability to have multiple main character’s stories fit together so well. Each character tells their piece of the story when it is their turn, and there really is no jerking back and forth between them or cliff hangers when one narrator is exchanged for another. The story flows easily, and is coherent despite the distinct voices. Each character is well developed and essential to the story. The only thing I disliked about the book, was that sometimes we hear the same information twice. Some things are repeated by different characters, and while it is good to know what each character does or does not know about the others, it seems it could be done in a better way than having two characters say the exact same sentence in consecutive chapters.

The real magic in First Frost is not in the apple tree, or the houses, or the odd talents everyone in the Waverly family has. The real magic is in the way Allen crafts the story to entertain and encourage at the same time. It’s in the good feeling you get after finishing the book, knowing that all the loose ends were wrapped up. First Frost is rather like a fairy tale, but it is not childish or even as simple as a normal fairy tale. It is creative, layered, and meaningful. In the end, it may not go on my shelf of favorite books, but it is a good book that I recommend to anyone wanting a fun yet meaningful story.

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