Seventeen-year-old Vi Sinclair’s roots run deep in the Missouri Ozarks, where, in some areas, it can still be plenty dangerous to be a girl who likes girls. Her greatest wish is to become a veterinarian like her boss, Claire Campbell. Fitting in at school wouldn’t be so bad, either. Only one obstacle stands in the way: She may not live long enough to see her wishes fulfilled.
With help from her only friend, Junior, Vi unravels a mystery that puts her in conflict with a vicious tormentor, a dog fight syndicate, and her own mother. Vi’s experience galvanizes her strength and veracity as she overcomes the paradox of mountain life, in which, even today, customs and mores seem timeless, and where a person can wake up dead simply because of being who she is.
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About the Author
A professor of education specializing in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Nancy Stewart is also the award-winning author of several bestselling books for young readers. The original manuscript for Beulah Land received the 2015 State of Florida Rising Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives with her husband and an adopted Bichon/Shih Tzu pup, Louie, in Tampa, Florida.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Beulah Land is a can’t-put-down novel from the very first chapter. Honest and haunting, the novel features Violette Sinclair, a 17-year-old born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks. Vi is a headstrong young woman who loves animals and revels in the beauty of the mountains, even as she despairs of the undercurrent of cruelty and injustice that runs through the town from some of its most powerful residents. When violence turns toward her and her family, she is forced to unearth painful secrets that place her and those she loves in constant danger. Complicating Vi’s attempts to search for the truth is the discomfort that those around her feel as they wrestle with their traditional beliefs about sexuality. Vi refuses to apologize for being gay – something the whole town learned about when she was discovered in a compromising situation with another girl years ago, in middle school. In the years since that incident, Vi has mainly kept to herself, with the exception of her best friend, Junior. A member of the football team, Junior doesn’t always understand Vi, but he loves her with the depth of a friendship that is enduring, protective, and courageous. Their friendship is just one of the shining examples of humanity brought to life in Beulah Land. Though the book’s scenes of violence are harsh and chilling, the depictions of family reconciliation, friendship, and natural beauty are detailed and lovely. There’s even a dog named Victory that will steal your heart.
Beulah Land, the debut Young Adult novel by Florida author Nancy Stewart, promises the reader a thrilling story and delivers. The heroine of Beulah Land is Violette Sinclair, soon to be a high school senior. Violette works for the local veterinarian, Claire Campbell. Violette is hard-working, motivated to succeed, smart, and gay. In the course of this fast-paced story, Violette’s life is endangered by the actions of a bully who threatens not only Vi, but Vi’s mother and sister Jess. Dale Woodbine’s hatred goes beyond his hatred of those who dare to be different. Violette discovers the secrets behind his attacks and seeks to find a way to remove him from her life without starting a blood feud between the Woodbines and Sinclairs. It’s a tricky business and getting killed where no body would ever be found is a distinct possibility. Extremely authentic in her portrayal of young Vi and her backwoods Ozark culture, author Stewart weaves a tale that is believable and inspiring. Vi’s courage, fears, and determination translate to worthy goals for all young readers. Readers don’t have to be gay to find themselves rooting for Vi.
At its heart, Beulah Land is a tale of family secrets, deep seated hate, and danger, all faced with courage by seventeen-year-old Violet Sinclair. When her very existence is threatened by a miserable excuse of a human being, simply because she’s a girl who likes girls, Violet chooses to do what’s right. In contrast to her tormentor, Junior is a best friend when she needs one most. Readers will find hope and inspiration in Beulah Land. They’ll also find a wonderful message from the author, a reminder that people everywhere, are far more alike than different. Three cheers for Stewart for having the courage to provide young people a worthy role model.