Abby: Finding More Than Gold
Review by Tracy Riva
By Sharon Poppen
copyright 2010 by Sharon Poppen
published by Awe-Struck Publishing, an imprint of Mundania Press, LLC
6470 Glenway Avenue #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211, ISBN 978-1-58749-731-5
Abby: Finding More Than Gold is one of those young adult books that’s a pleasure to read, regardless of your age. It follows the dreams and adventures of a young Irish girl, Abby Barron, from her home in Chicago across the Great Plains of America and finally into the Yukon, where like so many others she pursues her dream of striking it rich with a big gold find.
Abby, a girl not yet eighteen, sets her mind upon fulfilling the dream she and her cousin Liam had of going to the Yukon to find gold, along the way Abby discovers many new and exciting things about herself and the people around her. Abby will never be the innocent ‘colleen’ who set out from Chicago a short time before.
Reading Abby: Finding More Than Gold leaves you longing for a sequel to the book, but according to author Sharon Poppen a sequel, if there is one is quite a way in the future as she is currently under contract for other projects related to her book, After the War, Before the Peace. Still, you’ll want to know more of the fate of Abby, the Finleys and the rest of the family and friends from Abby: Finding More Than Gold.
Poppen does an excellent job with characterization and voice, although there is a touch of stereotype in the characters, it is not enough to detract from the story. Generally speaking there is a rich canvas of characters, action and story that fully and logically moves from beginning to conclusion with just enough tension to keep you eagerly turning pages.
What follows is an excerpt from early in the book:
“Abby took a deep breath and entered the darkened interior. The lobby was surprisingly clean and welcoming. She walked atop a faded Oriental rug runner, passing several divans and overstuffed chairs on her way to the hotel desk. A man wearing a green-shaded visor looked up from a newspaper and smiled broadly.
“Well, well, little lady.” His leering smile heightened Abby’s anxiety.
She laid the newspaper on the desk and pointed to the ad. “May I see Mr. Finley, please?”
He waved toward a room off to his left. “I believe I saw him come back a bit ago. Try the dining room. He may be having his lunch.”
Abby looked in the direction he pointed. “Can you tell me what he looks like?”
The clerk stepped from behind the desk and motioned for her to follow him. He led her to a room just off the hotel lobby. The room was bathed in the warmth of the January sun. At four of the eight or nine small tables, covered with white tablecloths and surrounded by four chairs each, sat lone male diners. The room was bright and stark in contrast to the dark of the lobby. The white walls were devoid of decoration. Only two potted ferns brought any color into the room.
The clerk pointed to a man who was sitting with his back to her at a table by the window. “That’s him.” He returned to his desk to talk with another woman. Abby noticed that the newcomer wa an unnatural blonde and was wearing far too much make-up. Her silk, red dress was inappropriately garish for this time of afternoon, or anytime actually. Abby watched the clerk and the woman exchange suggestive smiles before the blonde headed toward the stairs.
“Seat yourself girlie.” A chubby man wearing a greasy apron barked at her as he headed toward Mr. Finley with a bowl of soup and a pile of crackers.
Abby gripped the newspaper tightly and attempted to follow the waiter, but found her feet stuck to the floor. They refused to budge. Her terrified mind admonished her to turn and go home. She took two steps back. The newspaper fell from her hand.”
Just what happens to Abby from this point on is both a wonderful and terrible story of pain, hope and new beginnings. Abby: Finding More Than Gold is a joy to read regardless of your age.
Reviewed by: Christy Carlyle of Night Owl Romance
In Abby: Finding More Than Gold Sharon Poppen takes readers on a journey from turn of the century Chicago to the bustle of gold mine fever in Yukon. Abby Barron is an orphan who has found security in the family of her aunt and uncle, yet she and her cousin Liam dream of a life of travel and adventure. In particular, they are drawn to the notion of finding gold in Alaska. When Liam loses his life in an accident, Abby is spurred to act on their shared dream and despite the misgivings of her family sets out on a journey that leads her to love, loss, and adventure.
Sharon Poppen has a talent for bringing historical settings alive. Her descriptions of 19th century Denver and Dawson City are particularly vivid. In addition to many colorful settings, the story’s characters are also compelling. Poppen does not settle for two dimensional characters. Instead, they are complex, interesting and likeable enough to make a reader want to follow them on their many exploits. In particular, the heroine Abby, who must decide between a stable yet routine life with family and the prospect of wealth and excitement in the Yukon, is an appealing character who shows tenacity and strength throughout the trials and tribulations of her journey.
The story spans several years and the characters experience significant life changes as the novel progresses. Though it lacks some of the hallmarks of traditional historical romance novels, Ms. Poppen’s story is still an enjoyable read with a fast pace, many colorful settings, and sympathetic characters with realistic motivations and desires.
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