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Publisher's Summary

Set in 1940s Appalachia, The Secret Sense of Wildflower tells the story of Louisa May "Wildflower" McAllister, whose life has been shaped around the recent death of her beloved father in a sawmill accident. While her mother hardens in her grief, Wildflower and her three sisters must cope with their loss themselves, as well as with the demands of daily survival. Despite these hardships, Wildflower has a resilience that is forged with humor, a love of the land, and an endless supply of questions to God. When Johnny Monroe, the town's teenage ne'er-do-well, sets his sights on Wildflower, she must draw on the strength of her relations, both living and dead, to deal with his threat.
With prose as lush and colorful as the American South, The Secret Sense of Wildflower is powerful and poignant, brimming with energy and angst, humor and hope. In its ability to create a truly original Southern voice, The Secret Sense of Wildflower establishes Gabriel as a thoughtful and powerful Southern writer.
©2012 Susan Gabriel (P)2012 Susan Gabriel
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Critic Reviews

Best Books of 2012 (Kirkus Reviews)
"A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review and voted a Best Book of 2012)
"In this the story about a young girl who must grow up faster than her time and make peace with several factors there is also mystery and drama along with the palpable female protagonist and soulful narrative to keep the reader emotionally charged and invested. The Secret Sense of Wildflower is eloquent and moving tale chock-filled with themes of inner strength, family and love." (
"The story is powerful, very powerful. Excellent visuals, good drama. I raced to get to the conclusion...but didn't really want to read the last few pages because then it would be over!" (author Nancy Purcell)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By SALLY ANDERS on 12-05-17

I loved this story.

The setting, the characters, the family dynamics, and the sweetness of the young heroine, all contributed to my pleasure in listening to this story. When I heard that the author, Susan Gabriel, was also narrating, my initial response was, frankly, oh no! But as I listened, I came to appreciate that her plain voice was perfect for her young heroine, and the simple presentation, perfect for the story’s setting and time. A sweet and tender story.

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By Nancy on 02-16-17

not for listening

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

This is a character-driven coming of age story that I am told reads well. It's a real chore to listen to it.

What didn’t you like about Susan Gabriel’s performance?

Her voice is not well suited to the task at hand. She sometimes seems unfamiliar with the text (and she wrote it). The performance is monotonous and drains the story of color. A better recording might have screened out her audible respiration, sighs, stumbles, traffic noise, and the odd break when she says "beeeeeeep" and can be heard walking away. Why wasn't this edited out?

Any additional comments?

After reading the negative reviews about the narration, I was hesitant to invest in it, but I needed to read this for a book club. The book itself is well reviewed nationally, and my book club members who read the book (as opposed to listening to it) loved it. As an audiobook it is one of the most annoying things I've had to listen to. Another narrator would have rounded out the main character (as it is, she sounds like Eeyore) and made this a much better listen. Spoiler alert: readers should be aware the plot revolves around a brutal attack and sexual assault on a 13 year old girl in the mountains of Tennessee.

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