Cover Image: Stillwater

Stillwater

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Member Reviews

A lovely story about friendship and growing up. I loved the characters and their personalities as they struggled with mental illness and grief in the 1950s. While the plot was slightly predictable, I felt pulled into the story and enjoyed it a lot.
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Set in the 1950s, this book follows Grace, Maggie and Louanne as they start what should be an amazing summer. Great weather, no school, no bad vibes in the small town of Stillwater. But that's never the case. When fires mysteriously start, everyone pegs Louanne's Uncle Tony as the culprit, a paranoid obsessive with bad tendencies and suspicion about everyone. Grace, still riddled with grief from her father's death begins to uncover how exactly he died when her family won't tell her the truth. Maggie hides the abuse she receives from her father, even from those closest to her. When their worlds begin to crumble, they have to continue their search for the arsonist. Is it really Uncle Tony? Or is someone more sinister behind these attacks?

This story was interesting. It had a lot of highs but most of the book largely felt like nothing really happened, despite quite a lot actually going on? I'm not quite sure how the author managed to make me feel that kind of way and why I'm not even annoyed about it. I liked the characters, I loved their stubborn and strong willed mindsets. I enjoyed their determination and quick thinking. The only character I didn't have a lot of love for was Maggie, but her sharpness gets explained further into the book which then adds a bit more depth to her, but Grace and Louanne I enjoyed straight off the bat. While I still don't know how I really feel about this book, I do think it is an easy, almost intoxicating read. It isn't my favourite, and it doesn't strike me as the most rememberable read but it has a lot of difficult subjects discussed within it's 260+ pages such as grief, loss, abuse, mental illness and so on and set within a context that isn't exactly current; it provides for a nice environment. This feels although it would be a great summer read.
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This book is a beautiful story. A story about friendship and coming of age. I really enjoyed this story and how it addressed mental health. The author did a great job with her word building and descriptions of events.
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Knowing the book is set in the 1950's makes it from the era that I like to read about.  It's about 3 young girls coming of age in the 50's and the challenges they face from death and community misunderstanding about mental illness to divorce and heartbreak all told from the perspective of teens.

I really liked the friendship aspect of the girls relationships and each of them being there for the other throughout the summer.  In some ways it reminded me of my teenage years, having a few close friends and always being together. Life for me was sure simpler back then.  There is a mystery involved about someone that is setting fires and it was really nice to see the girls sticking up for someone that they just knew couldn't be an arsonist.'

There was a lot of tough subjects and I thought they were dealt with rather well, the author is a therapist so I would have expected that and I wasn't disappointed.  Some of the situations the girls found themselves in felt a little contrived, but overall the book was good.  I don't think it was my cup of tea but I thought it was well written and overall good book.
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A nostalgic novel set in the 1950s in upstate New York with three twelve-year-old girls as the protagonists. Would fit easily into YA, although it may have been aimed at an older generation. Deals with mental illness, family violence, and small-town life in a gentle way. An easy summer read.
Thank you to NetGalley for a preview copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Stillwater is a coming of age story about a girl in the 50s.  I absolutely loved it.  The three friends are all great characters and support each other through some pretty intense stuff.  Suicide, mental illness, and divorce were all topics that were not talked about in the 50s, they were the kinds of things people hid.  The author explores all that and more.  I found her writing to be really fluid, her characters are well written, and the setting perfect.  This is an excellent novel. I wish it had been longer so I could have stayed in Stillwater for a little longer.
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Stillwater was a great story about three best friends who are facing a variety of life changing events. This book lays bare the emotions of three girls as they face divorce, death and a communities misunderstanding of a mentally ill relative. My only complaint was it was fairly predictable. I knew the outcome of the mystery by page 100. It was still a great story though.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but I really enjoyed it. A book of surviving. This book is about how  “you can’t judge a book by its cover” And how everyone is going through something, don’t judge what you don’t know. I loved this book.
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This was such a good suspense story like none I have ever read before! There were so many elements that truly made it so unique to read from being in a catholic school to family drama. There are a few trigger warning which includes suicide, abuse and mental illness. Uncle Tony really hit a soft spot in my heart from when he was first introduced and thinking of the book, I think of this character. This was a really good coming of age story to read.
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A great little page turner that I had to finish in one sitting - this story has mystery, tragedy and a wonderful cast of characters. Our narrator, 12 year old Grace, finds out that adults aren’t as trustworthy and kind as she had always assumed, and it’s down to her and her friends Maggie and Lou to try to put things right. 
Grace is a wonderful character - full of kindness and courage, she’s not afraid to stand up for those who aren’t being treated fairly. Covering mental illness, loss, family and friendship, Hazard has created a novel that is surprisingly easy and enjoyable to read despite such heavy topics. 
Note for animal lovers like myself - there was a chapter I had to skim over due to the animal brutality.
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I loved this book.  It's easily one of the best books I've read this year.  I loved the story of Grace and her family and her friends.  I like that Grace just knows that the police are wrong about Uncle Tony and that if no one else is going to fix it then she has to and what's happening to Maggie is wrong, too.

I think that maybe my favorite scene in the book is when she and Lorraine save the people on the boat from getting damaged in the canal.  

When I describe the book this way, it somehow seems like it may be Pollyanna-ish or a bible story, but it's not.  Grace and her family and friends are quirky.  She lives with her mother and brother and grandfather,

It's fun and funny and compelling.
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I felt nostalgic reading this, not because I grew up in 1950s upstate New York where the story is set, but because of the strong echoes of Judy Blume, whose books I devoured as a teen, and today.

Grace and her best friends are 12 years old in this coming-of-age novel. Two of the girls attend a strict catholic school and live in a community with strong views about behaviour and morals. Grace and her friends spend the summer with more freedom than we could imagine giving 12 year olds today, but also the struggle of dealing with mental illness, death, divorce, justice as well as solving crime, risk taking and dealing with the often harsh consequences of their actions, fair or unfair.

The opening chapters launch straight into action and then the book settles into a steady rhythm - I didn’t find the ‘action’ really picked up until the last couple of chapters, don’t expect to be on the edge of your seat, it’s a slow burner after the initial charge. 

I enjoyed this book and will certainly read more from Mary Jo Hazard.
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I really enjoyed reading this coming of age story. It was very well written and gives a clear picture of what mental illness is.  I liked how the author made the point of not judging people by making the hero of the story someone that was suffering from mental illness. The story also teaches about abuse and divorce issues. Though this is a coming of age story, it is meant for a more mature audience. Reading the story reminded me of all the trouble kids can get into during the summer. If you are looking for a more dramatic read, this is a great pick!

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review**
A real coming-of-age story exploring a wealth of issues through growing up in a small town. Family secrets and local mysteries are investigated by 3 young girls while they're also dealing with their own issues and trying to become decent people.
I enjoyed this one, even though I did guess the identity of the arsonist. Having grown up in a small town myself, I identified with a lot of the problems that the girls faced.
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A well written family drama that will capture your heart as you uncover a family in crisis and see what it takes to overcome. You will cheer for Grace as she struggles with learning the truth about her family and as she takes the first shaky steps away from childhood. Definitely check this out. Happy reading!
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Stillwater is an interesting read with an original plot that deals with family secrets and how people perceive mental health.
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This is a beautiful story of friendship, loneliness, coming of age and survival where issues like addressing mental health and illness have emerged compared to describing the plot in the 50's. Three friends and their amazing story of supporting one and another. While reading this book, I get a major vibe of  'To KIll a Mockingbird' and the author stated about this in the author's note. I give kudos to the author for being influenced by the renowned classic and for being able to deliver the impression throughout the novel. Still there was something missing for me. I struggle a bit to find the target audience for this book. Sometimes, I feel it is written for the young adult and sometimes it feels like middle graders are the main readers.   I was surprised to know that the protagonist is 12 years old but in the story she seems like a more mature person at one point. Still the story carved its way beautifully. 

From me, it is 3 stars out of 5 but I would love to read more books by this author.
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Stillwater follows the story of three girls during the summer where an arsonist attacks and also deals with other serious topics such as mental illness and suicide.

The book was a quick read and I really enjoyed the writing style, I liked the pace of the book and the plotline. Right from the start I liked the main characters and found their friendship cute, there are also various side characters who I liked and helped add to the coming of age feel to the book. The main characters each have their own issues but I feel like the one that was dealt with the best is Grace’s and I related to her grief and how she dealt with it.

I did prefer the first half of the book as there were parts of the second half which dragged. I am not sure how I feel about the ending.

3/5
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This was such a strong and inspirational read featuring three friends in upstate New York as they each grapple familial issues in the 1950s. Grace discovers her father committed suicide years earlier, Maggie is subject to domestic violence, and Louanne’s parents decide to divorce. The story spans over the summer while these three best friends cope with their problems while simultaneously trying to pinpoint an identity to the town’s arsonist. Residents of Stillwater automatically blame Louanne’s uncle Tony because he is schizophrenic, and the girls are positive Uncle Tony isn’t the culprit. 

This was a fantastic read and at first I didn’t understand why it was classified as young-adult instead of middle-grade. The content is definitely for a mature audience since lots of deep subjects are brought up. I loved the small town setting and learning about the lives of everyone who inhabited Stillwater. It was hard to read the passages where Uncle Tony was treated as a pariah due to his mental illness, but on the flip side his treatment was accurately portrayed for that time period.
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Small-town 1950s America, as related by 12-year-old Grace and her best friends Maggie and Louanne. 
Maggie's father died when she was 8 - she was told it was an accident at work. Louanne's Uncle Tony is feared and mistrusted throughout the town because he suffers from mental illness. The relevance of these two, seemingly unconnected, parts of the story eventually becomes clear. 
The school janitor is sacked after an episode involving Maggie and Grace.
An arsonist is at large, starting fires in several places in the town.
The townspeople blame Uncle Tony because of his strange behaviour.
But is he responsible...?
A tale of growing up, a mystery and attitudes to mental illness.
There are some parts of the story that seem a little unbelievable - the children seem especially accident prone and some of their scrapes appear gratuitous, but apart from that it is a well-told story, which explores mental illness effectively.
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