A Vermont author turns to Carolina charms

What does it mean to have faith? For 10-year-old Carolina, it means believing that she will find the one place where she can truly say she belongs.

Vermont author Marilyn Taylor McDowell shares Carolina's journey to fulfilling her dreams in her debut novel for young readers "Carolina Harmony" (Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers). Set within the backdrop of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains of the 1960s, McDowell's lyrical novel reveals to readers the beauty and simplicity of mountain living juxtaposed against a world where the Civil Rights movement was in full force, and modern technology was starting to infiltrate even the smallest of towns.

After a recent accident claims the lives of her parents and little brother, 10-year-old Carolina finds herself an orphan, with only one living relative to call family. Lovable Auntie Shen shows Carolina how to live off the mountains, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. But when she falls ill, Carolina is left in the hands of multiple foster families who view her as just another mouth to feed.

Forced to flee the homes she is living in, Carolina ends up at Harmony Farm, where the Harmony family takes her in and treats her as their own. Carolina's heart tells her that this is where she truly belongs, but she is scared to let the family know about the events of her past. Is there a chance that she could really become "Carolina Harmony?"

McDowell's heart-warming novel is one that will appeal to young readers, as well as their parents and educators. Carolina is a character that readers will be cheering for as her journey leads her to the new family that she has dreamt of being a part of.

Already receiving critical acclaim, a starred review in Booklist said "McDowell reveals her love for this part of the world, savoring the language, the environment, and the traditions of mountain culture. Thoughtful readers will come to love it, and Carolina, too."

McDowell has spent many years living on farms, and currently resides in Vermont.

"I was raised by farmers, my brother became a dairy farmer, I lived on and visited and worked on the farms of friends and I am living on a farm now," she said.

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