Seattle writer Michele Malo’s first novel, A Summer in Peach Creek, came out in December and is just starting to get attention.
Inspired by her mother’s adolescent journals, Malo crafted a coming-of-age story set in the Thirties, featuring a Seattle girl, Faith, visiting relatives in West Virginia. Each page is drenched in the color and detail of daily life in a small mining town, deep in the grips of Depression.
Faith’s focus is on the details of daily life: understanding her cousins’ culture and social life, perceiving a disturbance in her parents’ marriage, learning how to flirt. The peaceful hot summer days for both the cousins and the adults are disturbed by a murder among the town’s leading socialites, fraught with the possibility of false accusations.
For me, reading A Summer in Peach Creek was a vacation in a country I don’t frequently visit. My tastes turn to noir mysteries, with occasional vacations in Georgette Heyer’s Britain and M.C. Beaton’s Scotland. Being immersed in the Peach Creek world of the 1930s reawakened memories of older coming-of-age stories like Anne of Green Gables, but with a modern sensibility and consciousness.
Try it — you can preview early chapters on Amazon.
Full disclosure: I met Michele last summer in a writers’ seminar taught by Waverly Fitzgerald. I was so impressed by her dedication to her story that I came to serve as the design-and-production engineer for the print and ebook text. The lovely cover features artwork by Nancy Stanchfield and Temre Stanchfield.