Follow Me
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Follow Me

3.7 4
by Joanna Scott

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Leah Hager Cohen
…a densely stitched crazy quilt of a story that spans more than 60 years (from 1946 to 2008) and borrows from the conventions of a wealth of genres—not only tall tale but also historical novel, oral history, magical realism, bildungsroman, epic and soap. Everything about this book feels oversized, overstuffed. The prose style itself pays homage to variety, veering from folksy to Socratic to exclamatory to echolalic…on the whole there's a lusciousness to all the excess, an egalitarian sensibility in keeping with the most quintessential aspects of American mythology.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

It is 1947, and teenager Sally Werner is on the run in rural Pennsylvania, fleeing her family and the newborn son conceived after a brief encounter with an older cousin. She follows the river north on the first of several abrupt, desperate journeys that take her farther from each reinvented life. Depending upon the kindness of strangers generally works, but tragic and violent love affairs leave Sally with emotional and physical scars as well as a daughter, Penelope. Over six decades, we follow mother and daughter and then granddaughter and namesake, Sally, who serves as narrator and as her grandmother's confidante. The elder Sally finds contentment later in life, but secrets and misunderstandings threaten Penelope's happiness. Through it all, the fictional Tuskee River keeps flowing, and sightings of a mythical creature periodically occur. While Scott (The Manikin) finely dissects the lives of these American women with realism and respect, the work sometimes sags beneath its own weighty detail. An optional purchase.
—Jenn B. Stidham

Kirkus Reviews
Scott (Everybody Loves Somebody, 2006, etc.) follows the life journey of an impoverished farm girl who repeatedly reinvents herself as she moves from town to town in northern Pennsylvania. In 1947, 16-year-old Sally Werner, the daughter of German immigrants, is seduced and impregnated by a cousin. Leaving behind her newborn son, she runs away and begins a new life in a small community along the Tuskee River. But when someone from home recognizes her, Sally panics. She steals cash from her kindly employer and runs further north to a new town where she calls herself Sally Angel. She falls in love with a teenager named Mole who makes her genuinely happy until local rich boy Benny carelessly runs Mole's car off the road. Unaware of his role in Mole's death, grief-stricken Sally has a brief affair with Benny before she senses his mean streak. She runs again although she soon realizes she is carrying Benny's baby. As Sally Mole she finds friendship, a good job and a satisfying life with her daughter Penelope in the town of Tuskee until Benny finds her and beats her up. Correctly fearing that he'll attempt to take her daughter away, Sally runs with Penelope to Rondo where as Sally Bliss she raises Penelope while working as a legal secretary and carrying on a romance with her married boss. Sally's story is narrated by her granddaughter, who is also tracing her own parental history. Penelope never knew why her fiance Abe disappeared before the narrator's birth, although early on the narrator drops the bombshell-Abe left when Sally told him he was her long-lost son. The romantic tragedy is that Sally was mistaken. The novel begins to peter out when Abe initiates contact with the narrator to giveher the facts. Abe's story is just not as interesting as Sally's. Scott's luminous prose, references to world events and hints of magical realism never quite coalesce, but Sally is a character of mythic proportions.

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Joanna Scott is the author ofnine books, including The Manikin, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Various Antidotes and Arrogance, which were both finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award; and the critically acclaimed Make Believe, Tourmaline, and Liberation. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship,and a Lannan Award, she lives with her family in upstate New York.

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Follow Me 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
FOLLOW ME is a story about sixteen-year-old Sally who in 1946 takes a motorcycle ride with her cousin, gets pregnant and leaves the baby and escapes her family and the life she'd known. She runs away and for the next 40 years or so reinvents herself and moves further up the Tuskee River every time tragedy strikes. Her tragic life story is assembled piece by piece by her name-sake granddaughter, but she then learns a different story from the man claiming to be her dad and the child that Sally left behind. Joanna Scott has written an amazing story about choices, redemption, hope and love. She writes with such passion and with descriptive narratives that makes this novel a wonderful tale.
robin_titan More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4.7/5 Age R: 15+ Release Date: April 22, 2009 Thoughts: The writing in this is....out of this world. Seriously. It's just so freakin' beautiful! Follow Me is one of the most beautiful books I have EVER read! The story is just too, too wonderful and unforgettable, it's one I am definitely going to revisit. The story starts off with a girl who (we later learn is Sally's granddaughter) is talking about how her father tried to kill himself, failed, then just packed up and left. Sally, the narrator's grandmother, blames herself for this. Why you say? Well, Sally (granddaughter) tells us why. And so begins the story of Sally Werner, a sixteen year old girl who gets knocked up by her cousin. She decides to run away, leaving her baby behind on the kitchen table, only to later become Sally Angel, then Sally Mole, then Sally Bliss. Each time she runs away she changes her last name. And each time we read about a story that seriously pulls at your heartstrings. One in particular almost had me in tears. If my tear ducts worked properly I would have totally cried my eyes out. :( Joanna Scott takes us through the amazing journey of a girl who's life ends up bringing her down, and down, and down. I completely admire this girl for having the strength to start over again more than once. In a way it was kind of cowardly, but then again, imagine if you went through that? What would you do? Not that you'd do the exact same thing but she was young and it is hard to think straight sometimes. Either way, I loved this book so much you have no idea. I'll admit at some points it was a bit slow, but that didn't last more then a minute. I absolutely loved the way it was written. Some of it was written in the POV of Sally's granddaughter, most in the POV of Sally herself, and some in the POV of Sally's (granddaughter, kinda confusing huh? hehe) father. Gosh darn I'm still thinking about this one particular part that made me soo dang sad you've no idea. :( I'm not gonna give any spoilers but I will say this, it has to do with one of Sally's loves. :(
Twink More than 1 year ago
Covers are very often the first thing that catches my eye. The cover of Follow Me by Joanna Scott is incredibly vivid and lush, promising a rich read. And it didn't disappoint! Thanks to Miriam from the Hachette Book Group for this latest Early Bird Tour selection. Another great pick! The opening chapter is tantalizing. An unnamed granddaughter promises to never repeat the story her dying grandmother, Sally Werner, tells her. Her grandmother "confided in me because she wanted me to understand, as she put it, how one thing led to another." This book and the story contained within is the breaking of that promise and a granddaughter's search for answers. Sally Werner's story begins in 1947 when she is 16 and makes to decision to leave her newborn child on her parent's kitchen table and run away. She finds herself at the beginning of the Tuskee River, burbling up out of the hillside. Sitting by the river, trying to decide what to do next, she thinks she catches a glimpse of a funny little creature with yellow spots watching her. There is a legend - of the Tuskawali - believed to be "sacred incarnations of fate, begot in the underworld for the sole purpose of multiplying possibility in the world. Their goodwill could be cultivated simply by leaving them alone." Sally decides to follow the path of the river and see what comes next. Along the Tuskee, Sally finds kindness, happiness, sadness and cruelty. But she is optimistic, making the best of what befalls her. But it always seems that just when things are settled, fate steps in and changes the flow of her life. The telling of Sally's story is alternated with her granddaughter's view on Sally's life and legacy. "I was more than a mistake to my grandmother , I was the consequence of a long series of bad decisions traceable back years before my mother and father fell in love, back to the time before mother had been born, when my grandmother was a young woman fumbling along, following the river north." At this point in the story I had a good idea where it was going. But this didn't detract me from rapidly turning pages. Sally's life and choices are fascinating. She is a strongly written character, evoking many emotions in the reader. My opinion of her changed many times. I found myself feeling sorry for her, angry with her, proud of her and changing my viewpoint many times. She is resilient, going against the social mores of the 40's and 50's. Throughout it all, the Tuskee River is a constant. The Tuskawali make appearances, but you have to read carefully to catch the references. Towards the end, as Sally's granddaughter begins to find anwers, the same story is told by two characters. I found this part a little slow going - I was in a hurry to see the outcome. And although I would have liked to have the final scene all spelled out, I'm happy that Scott left it to us to use our imagination. I really enjoyed this book. Sally Werner's life, her jouney, her indomitable spirit and the undercurrent of the Tuskawali made this a bewitching read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago