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Follow Meby Joanna Scott
Synopses & Reviews
On a summer day in 1946 Sally Werner, the precocious young daughter of hardscrabble Pennsylvania farmers, secretly accepts her cousin's invitation to ride his new motorcycle. Like so much of what follows in Sally's life, it's an impulsive decision with dramatic and far-reaching consequences. Soon she abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter and namesake, six decades later. But when young Sally's father — a man she has never known — enters her life and offers another story altogether, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's secret history.
Boldly rendered and beautifully told, in Follow Me Joanna Scott has crafted a paean to the American tradition of re-invention and a sweeping saga of timeless and tender storytelling.
"A granddaughter sifts through her grandmother's rich and mysterious life in Pulitzer finalist Scott's latest. As a teenager in 1946, Sally Werner experiences something between rape and seduction at the hands of her cousin, resulting in a baby, family shame and her running away. Each time Sally feels her past catching up with her, she finds a new town and assumes a new identity, eventually graduating from taking the charity — and more — of others to supporting herself. A doomed love affair, a cat and mouse chase with the brutal father of a second child, and a longing for safety and freedom keep Sally moving until she settles down and her daughter, Penelope, inherits her restless energy. As the novel, and Sally's life, draws to a close, we get a final look at this remarkable woman through the eyes of her granddaughter, also named Sally, and through the younger Sally's once absent father, Abe. A retelling of the archetypal American journey from a female perspective, this rendering of the perils and triumphs facing women is imbued with a questing spirit." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Who of us hasn't indulged in the daydream of running away and reinventing ourselves? Just slam the door on that messy household, wander down the road and start fresh with a new identity in a white-walled studio apartment. Even if we aren't brave enough, or foolish enough, to chuck it all, we're drawn to fictional characters who have — from Hawthorne's Wakefield to Ann Tyler's fugitive housewife.... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) In her lyrical new novel, "Follow Me," Joanna Scott traces the meandering path of a runaway girl from place to place, name to name, starting as 16-year-old Sally Werner in 1947 rural Pennsylvania. Her saga begins with an innocent motorcycle ride with an older cousin at a church picnic, which results in a baby son and rejection by her fundamentalist parents. She decides her only option is escape, following the Tuskee River that snakes across the Werners' back fields. "Running, running, running, because that's what a girl does who has left her baby in a basket on top of the kitchen table, like a pile of fresh-baked biscuits. ... How many lives start over this way, by putting one foot in front of the other?" Over the next four decades, she washes up in towns farther along the Tuskee, surviving on the kindness of strangers — a bundle of cash from an elderly farmer, a free bed from a lush, a typist job from a lawyer who has a crush on her. But every time Sally catches a glimpse of security and happiness, tragedy strikes, usually at the hand of a man: A lover is killed in an accident, the father of her second child nearly beats her to death, and Sally is off again. Her many reincarnations are pieced together years later by her granddaughter and a man who believes he is the infant that Sally abandoned. Scott, whose previous novels have been finalists for both the Pulitzer and the PEN/Faulkner awards, excels in her stream-of-consciousness descriptions of the mysterious Tuskee that provides Sally's true north: "a young woman without oars in a boat turning around and around on a warm day sun on your face on the river your river like home if you had a home." Ultimately, though, the metaphor overwhelms the story of the woman herself, Sally Werner Angel Mole Bliss, who had "traveled the length of the Tuskee River and no farther." Reviewed by Caroline Preston, whose most recent novel is 'Gatsby's Girl', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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In 1946, Sally Werner abandons her home to begin a daring journey of self-creation, the truth of which she entrusts only with her granddaughter, six decades later. But when the younger Sally's father enters her life and offers another story, she must uncover the truth of her grandmother's past.
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