Sassafras

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

Sassafras is the river that Champs, our main character, escapes to after the death of his wife. She was apparently the buffer between Champs and his children and the modern world. He is set adrift emotionally following her death as his grapples with his loss and the losses that follow. He was a difficult character to like, but so were many of the other characters, especially his children, who also allowed their mother to serve as buffer in their relationship with their father. A quick uplifting read, though the uplift was hard fought. I was given an advanced readers copy of this book by the publisher and netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such an enjoyable book.  I loved the characters and the atmospheric writing style of the author.  Champs reminds me of a couple of my husbands friends and I could so relate to the story. 
Many thanks to Glasswing Media and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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When I read a novel with an older main character that is written by a younger person, I am always skeptical. Does the author paint the person with a broad brush of stereotypes or is it a honest picture of the finer details that older people face. Champs starts out as grumpy narrow-minded, stubborn and selfish.  Many simple plots twists involve paternity.  But Champs does learn to forgive and forget and move on with the rest of his life. There was too much family chatter at times.  The ending is a little too pat ... they went off on a long boat trip. Freedom is more elusive than that  Yet is was an interesting read overall with a believable character. Love the book cover.
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Sassafras is a river, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. That’s the geography. But Sassafras is more than a river; it’s a culture, a way of life, with generations of history. And there lives Champs, after he’s fled from the retirement community where he lived with his recently deceased wife. 

He flees with her urn. And therein lies the tale of his entire family, whose essence he discovers in his journey of mourning, and his children’s and grandchildren’s and neighbor’s mourning. That Champs is on this journey is unknown to him until he finally gets it, towards the end of this long story. 

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will exasperate you. And it’s well worth diving into. 

I received this book as an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.
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Funny, endearing, and important! We can all learn a thing or two from Champs and the Noland family. One of the biggest take-aways for me was, "You can't do it alone."


Newly widowed Champs Noland hates Egret’s Pond, the retirement community he nicknamed Regret’s Pond. 
Champs must decide if he’s going to dwell in the past and continue to hide behind his gruff exterior, or let go of the golden urn and embrace the uncertainty of living—and loving—again. (from the publisher)

You will fall in love with Champs, Josanne, and the entire Nolan Clan. Kudos to Trish Heald for taking a tough subject that is tough to talk about and tougher to deal with and making a sweet story that was a joy to read.

I also loved Sassafras' beautiful cover art. This entire book was a win! I would highly recommend this book. Thank you, NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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It takes some time for me to write this review. This book touched me in a way.  It made me contemplate about my future, when I will enter the empty nest stage. ⁣
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The book itself tells us a story about Champ after his wife, Pat, die. He is struggling to fit in elderly facilities and reject the idea of such place. But when he come to his cabin in Sashafras, in hope to stay there for the rest of his life with his wife urn, he found that his daughter  redecorated the place to list it in AirBnB. Something he doesn't know. ⁣
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Then, we'll meet Champs' children whose already adult, two of them have kids. We will be shown their internal conflicts and how it resolved. ⁣
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Thankfully, this book ends happily. But please be prepared to be moved by Champs contemplation, and annoyed by his sometimes ridiculous act. ⁣
⁣
Thank you #netgalley for providing the arc in exchange of honest review. ⁣
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Sassafras by Trish Heald is a recommended story of the plans of newly widowed Champs Noland and his dysfunctional family.

Champs Noland has lost his beloved wife, Pat, to cancer shortly after they moved into a retirement community. His plan is to leave Egret's Pond, or as Champ's calls it, Regret's Pond, and head out, with the urn containing Pat's ashes, to his fishing cabin on the Sassafras River. His children plan for him to stay at the retirement community. He plans to spend the remainder of his life alone, drinking beer and fishing off his rusty boat. Imagine Champs shock when he arrives at his cabin and finds it all redecorated. Apparently his daughter, Laura, has been fixing it up so it could be rented out as an Airbnb - without telling Champs. Things go downhill from here.

Champs will be a memorable character for many readers, especially for some of his plans and actions once he reaches Sassafras River. This is a heart-warming story about a stubborn curmudgeon after the death of his wife and the story of how he and his family develop a relationship with her gone. All the characters are caricatures, representing a type of person, rather than feeling like real flesh and blood people. But, many readers are really going to like this story and will find Champ and all his ways endearing. There is an underlying story about acceptance and how families are what you make them.

This is reminiscent of all the other recent books about old curmudgeons (set off by the excellent A Man called Ove), who are also somewhat lovable in a crusty way. It is well-written and creates a sense of place; however, the crusty-old-man jokes became tiring after a while (and I began to wonder if Heald actually knows any man in their 70's). It is a lighthearted satirical novel, though, and many people will respond to it favorably.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Glasswing Media via Netgalley.

http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/10/sassafras.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3004682935?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
https://www.librarything.com/work/23777507/book/174046855
https://twitter.com/SheTreadsSoftly/status/1181331792319700995?s=20
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What a great book!
This is the story of Champs, a patriarch who has a cabin on the Sassafras River off the Chesapeake Bay.
We meet Champs shortly after his beloved wife of many years, Pat, has passed away. 
We follow along as he learns to cope and interacts with his kids, grandkids, friends, and most of all, life without Pat.  (I don't want to spoil a great story).

Having just lost my own Dad, this book really resonated for me, especially the wonderful and touching wisdom of Champs' neighbor Josanne, whose calling is making memorial cross-stitch samplers. There are so many funny, touching moments in the book, and it is really well written. 

At one point Josanne says, 
" We want so bad to figure out death, to get away from the hurt, to make it something else. I think death is a great fissure thrown in our path, like a crack in the earth. Now, some of us are gonna spend the rest of our time looking into that crack paralyzed and full of fear. Others are gonna be drawn into it and disappear in the blackness. There’s some fools gonna try to jump over it to the other side, where the grass is always greener, but they never really make it. the only way I’ve seen it work, is to build a bridge. And to build a bridge takes time, it takes materials, and most of all it takes other people. You can’t do it alone.”

This really resonated and hit home for me. So. Much. Wisdom.
A book about healing wrapped up in comedy and love. 
One of the best things I've read in a really long time. 
Brava!

Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.
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Champs Noland is in a retirement community and he hates it with a passion. His wife has passed away and he is totally at a loss how to cope with everyday stuff. He wishes she left him notes on how to manage their three children, what to say to people and just how to survive. 

Champs has been the provider and nothing else. He has not been able to actually grieve the loss of his wife and just plods on day to day just trying to get through the day the only way he knows how. Returning to his holiday home on the river is the only way he knows how to live, but finding on arrival that the entire place has been gentrified makes him so angry that again he does not know what and how to cope.

When the children start arriving with the intention of disposing their mother's ashes and having some form of closure, apart from trying to get to grips with their father things take on a slightly ludicrous turn with Champs opposing them at every turn and not being able to see the bigger picture of how concerned they all are for him. Faced with a discovery that he only suspected before Champs has to now learn how to live, and love and forget all over again.

A story of family - amidst grieving for a much loved mother, and relationships which have to be first mended before they can move on.
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If you enjoyed 'A Man Called Ove' this is a novel for you. 

There's humour and pop culture and a really strong and atmospheric sense of place. Champ 's character and motivations are well-drawn and the story throws up interesting questions about parent-child relationships in the form of capacity, responsibility and what we value in life as we age and lose our fulcrums: people places and things. At times Champ's strong character does dominate at the expense of the characterisation of the other people in the story (Laura, especially) but overall I enjoyed reading this and I recommend it.
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Despite the heavy subject matter, the novel is positively delightful and humorous. Family secrets are unearthed and Champs learns that he’s actually not to old to learn how to emotion. I really enjoyed this reading, and it's comparable to Eleanor Oliphant, which I loved.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this arc.
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I enjoyed this novel about a feisty older man who has just lost his wife. The author has captured Champs’ voice with honesty and grit and I smiled many times and laughed out loud quite a few at his perception of life.  

The characters are well-written except I felt that Laura didn’t have a lot of depth until we find out about the baby she lost. Also, I see no motivation for Pat to have slept with someone else. It is mentioned that she was very drunk the night it happened, but there was no indication at all before this revelation that Pat was prone to getting drunk or even drinking! So I found that a bit hard to believe. 

I enjoyed watching Champs change and transform as the story unraveled. And I especially liked Josanne and her healing cross stitch samplers for people who’d lost loved ones!

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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First of all, props to Trish Heald, who is one of many independent authors out there willing to do the hard work of managing all aspects of their book production, from writing the work to publishing it to marketing it. Though I’m sure rewarding, I can’t imagine how challenging that process would be--at least at times—not to mention the resiliency and self-motivation a project like this would require. With that said, thank you to the author for providing me with a free digital ARC copy of SASSAFRAS via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

In short, SASSAFRAS details one man’s experience with the recent loss of his wife, growing older, and dealing with sometimes difficult adult children who seem to want to control his situation. I’ve been on a curmudgeon reading kick lately, and Champs certainly fits the bill: he is cantankerous, irascible, beer guzzling, and just plain stubborn most of the time. But that doesn’t mean that he isn’t lovable, and as the novel progresses both his family and the reader find more and more reason to appreciate who Champs is deep down despite his rough edges. 

The primary reason for my three-star rating is the pacing, which felt slow at times. Additionally, the large cast of characters got a bit unwieldy by the novel’s conclusion, but I mostly kept track of who was who without too much confusion. Despite these issues, this is a heart-warming, feel-good story, and the setting of the Sassafras River adds perfectly to the charm of the novel. 

(As an aside, I have to say I love the cover art! It's gorgeous! The designer deserves a pat on the back and is hopefully out there making more beautiful covers!)
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Description
Newly widowed Champs Noland hates Egret’s Pond, the retirement community he nicknamed Regret’s Pond.

Tired of empty condolences, “What to Expect When You’re Grieving” pamphlets, and casseroles delivered by do-gooding widows, he flees to his ramshackle summer cabin on the Sassafras River bringing the golden urn containing Pat’s ashes with him.

His plan?

To spend his days idly fishing on his rusty old boat, Tetanus, and drinking beer. Alone.

But troubled waters await him.

Not only is Pat dead, but his daughter Laura has redecorated his beloved cabin with plans to rent it out as a “hair-being-bee.” His boat is gone, his beer fridge is filled with watermelon-flavored Perrier, and his plans for solitude are shattered by interfering neighbors, a notorious chicken-farming arsonist, and the arrival of his demanding adult children.

When he’s confronted with a shocking secret, Champs must decide if he’s going to dwell in the past and continue to hide behind his gruff exterior, or let go of the golden urn and embrace the uncertainty of living—and loving—again.

By turns poignant, humorous, and uplifting, Sassafras is a richly drawn story of the transformational power of loss, friendship, and family.

This was a beautifully written book. Very touching, full of some crazy family issues as he holds on to his wife in an urn. I was connected to Champ on a deep level. He had lost, and his family was brilliant in driving him into transformation. Lose, friendships and family, and life is meant to live.
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