"John Warley's A Southern Girl is a stunning achievement: a beautifully written and heartfelt account of a father's love for an adopted daughter, and his struggles in helping her find her own identify in an elite yet conflicted society. Based on the author's own experiences, this triumphant story belongs to anyone who has ever loved, grieved, questioned, rejoiced, despaired, and risked it all for the strongest bond of all, that glorious, undefinable unit we call family."--Cassandra King, bestselling author of five novels including Moonrise
"A Southern Girl is a heart-wrenching story of personal struggles when a traditional southern family adopts a foreign child. John Warley masterfully chronicles the prejudice, family dramas, and the secret, behind-the-smiles politics of an exclusive Charleston society. Asia meets Charleston offers irresistible appeal, like watching a cherry tree and magnolia bloom together outside your window. For readers of southern fiction this is a must read!"--Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author
"John Warley's novel A Southern Girl takes us on a fascinating and powerful emotional journey that proves itself to be a richly rewarding story of life and family. It's simply unforgettable. Congratulations, Mr. Warley!"--Dorothea Benton Frank, New York Times bestselling author of ten novels
"Forget what you know about the South. John Warley serves up a unique perspective and challenges perceptions of the southern belle. A powerhouse of emotion, A Southern Girl explores the depths of parental love and the lengths to which it will go. Warley's words are fresh and urgent and beg you to keep reading."--Nicole Seitz, author of A Hundred Years of Happiness and Beyond Molasses Creek
"John Warley's marvelous novel A Southern Girl is the best book I've ever read about Charleston's mysterious and glittering high society. Its affirmation of the enduring power of parental love vying against that enigmatic realm is reverential and stunningly original, as stylish as a novel by John Irving and as tightly written as one by John Grisham. I wish I'd written this book."--Pat Conroy
"Nobody does family pride like a Southerner. But in his balletic, big-hearted new novel, John Warley cajoles and challenges the limits of that pride. Here, it's the beaming, fatherly love awakened by an adopted child that's cause for celebration, rather than one's ancestral silver or membership in the St. Cecilia Society. While reading A Southern Girl---a rebel yell for the traditional, non-traditional family--I was wondrously reminded of theologian Stanley Hauerwas's great line: 'If you want to welcome the stranger, have a child.' No kidding."--Robert Leleux, author of The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy and The Living End
"With both skill and passion, John Warley carries the reader through generations and countries. Following plot twists and heart-turns, we become a member of many families, loving and loathing as we do in any real family. A Southern Girl is rich with trustworthy and vulnerable narrators who allow us the privilege of entering the secret traditions and lore-soaked South as well as the clandestine corners of the character's souls. This is a gorgeous, heartfelt book from a masterful storyteller; I didn't want to miss a word of Warley's whispered secrets."--Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author of And Then I Found You, Coming Up for Air, and others
Under pressure from his liberal wife, a member of Charleston society reluctantly adopts a baby girl from Korea in this novel by Southerner Warley (The Moralist, 2011, etc.), himself the father of a daughter born in Korea. In the late 1970s, Elizabeth Carter and her litigating attorney husband, Coleman, are raising their two sons in New Hampton, Va. Elizabeth is a native Kansan. Although she plays the part of traditional wife and mother, she's a quiet rebel—i.e., she won't join the Junior League—who has always wanted to adopt a Korean baby. Coleman, on the other hand, was raised in Charleston by parents who drummed into his head the danger inherent in threatening their traditional values: God, family and South Carolina (by which they meant established Charleston families) above all. He has serious reservations about bringing an Asian child into the family, but he acquiesces, recognizing that it's time to cast off his parents' fear of change. Meanwhile, in Korea, a young mother reluctantly gives up her beloved infant, knowing that adoption in America is her daughter's one chance to survive and prosper. That child becomes Allie, the Carters' new daughter. Shortly after her arrival from Korea, the family moves back to Charleston, the only home Allie will know. Smart and adorable, she fits into the Carters' lives more seamlessly than either parent might have expected, and Coleman especially adores her. When tragedy strikes less than halfway through the novel, he rises to the occasion. But seven years later, when Allie is a Princeton-bound high school senior, a seemingly trivial issue—her exclusion from a society ball—becomes a major crisis. After Coleman fails to win over the society's board members, several of whom he counts as close friends, a Jewish ACLU attorney from New York pressures him to sue for discrimination. Although manipulatively written, with a heavy-handed plot and a cast of noble Asians, Warley's story offers a surprisingly nuanced take on political correctness.