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  • Writer's pictureJoan Fernandez

Chasing Eleanor Book Review

By Kerry Chaput

Cover of Speaking While Female an anthology

Captivating Character Boils beneath the Surface - Tour de Force

Kerry Chaput is a virtuoso when it comes to crafting captivating characters who boil beneath the surface with unrelenting simmering rage. An anger that both defines and drives her female protagonists with such force they charge through the pages, prepared to mow down every obstacle attempting to rear its head. In her latest book, CHASING ELEANOR, Chaput is at her best. In this engrossing story, 17-year-old heroine Magnolia’s anger stems from a deep inner wound. Abandoned by her father and ridiculed by a cruel bedridden mother, she fiercely accepts the responsibility to provide and care for her two younger brothers–a near impossible task during the Depression when millions searched for work and Magnolia and the boys live in extreme poverty.. When Magnolia finds a job, the brief reprieve backfires for it’s discovered her brothers are unsupervised and sent away to an orphan asylum. Hellbent on reuniting with them, she begins a high-stakes cross-country search, encountering new friends and kind strangers but also violence and murder. The Depression period’s extreme homelessness gives the story a desperate edge as Magnolia and her travel companions face gnawing hunger and dangerous men. Enter Eleanor Roosevelt, whose real life mission was to encourage and support people during those despairing times. She becomes Magnolia’s focal point to answer her yearning for beneath her anger is the longing to be seen, to be found worthy and loved.

At times, Magnolia’s relentless pursuit brought tears to my eyes. This story may take place in the 1930’s but it’s a current reality today too for she reminded me of the 200,000-plus unaccompanied immigrant children in the US who, like Magnolia, want to find a better life for themselves and families. CHASING ELEANOR is a tour de force. Bravo Kerry Chaput.

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