The Last Carolina Girl

A Novel

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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 14 Mar 2023
SOURCEBOOKS Landmark, Sourcebooks Landmark

Description

A searing book club novel for fans of Where the Crawdad's Sing and The Girls in the Stilt House following one girl fighting for her family, her body, and her right to create a future all her own

Some folks will do anything to control the wild spirit of a Carolina girl...

For fourteen-year-old Leah Payne, life in her beloved coastal Carolina town is as simple as it is free. Devoted to her lumberjack father and running through the wilds where the forest meets the shore, Leah's country life is as natural as the Loblolly pines that rise to greet the Southern sky.

When an accident takes her father's life, Leah is wrenched from her small community and cast into a family of strangers with a terrible secret. Separated from her only home, Leah is kept apart from the family and forced to act as a helpmate for the well-to-do household. When a moment of violence and prejudice thrusts Leah into the center of the state's shameful darkness, she must fight for her own future against a world that doesn't always value the wild spirit of a Carolina girl.

Set in 1935 against the very real backdrop of a recently formed state eugenics board, The Last Carolina Girl is a powerful and heart-wrenching story of fierce strength, forgotten history, autonomy, and the places and people we ultimately call home.

A searing book club novel for fans of Where the Crawdad's Sing and The Girls in the Stilt House following one girl fighting for her family, her body, and her right to create a future all her own

Some...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781728257150
PRICE $16.99 (USD)
PAGES 320

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Average rating from 28 members


Featured Reviews

It has been a very long time since a novel made me cry. I actually had to stop at chapter six to compose myself.
Ms. Church writing style in the very beginning brought me in. I did however found some parts dragging and was wanting to finish, but I was drawn back in again.
This novel touches on the cruelty of state eugenics board and the ignorance of society.

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I want to grab Leah and give her the big hug that she deserves!

Leah, a lover of nature and a free spirit, is suddenly orphaned and is sent to be a servant far from her familiar surroundings.

There are some mysteries about her new 'family,' and Leah falls victim to eugenics studies that were taking place during the 1930s. This was a heart wrenching and eye opening story. The author's notes at the end of the book provides more information about the study of eugenics in this era, and Leah's experience was unfortunately far more common that I have realized.

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This was a new author for me . I never read anything from this author before but for the most part I really liked this book. I thought the whole story was amazing. I honestly didn’t want this book to end. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with on the next book they write. I usually judge a book from the cover because for me it shows if it’s going to be interesting or not and I loved the book.

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This was a new author for me . I never read anything from this author before but for the most part I really liked this book. I thought the whole story was amazing. I honestly didn’t want this book to end. I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with on the next book they write. I usually judge a book from the cover because for me it shows if it’s going to be interesting or not and I loved the book.

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The Last Carolina Girl is a heart-wrenching look at the history of eugenics and how it applied to young woman deemed "less than". The lead character has experienced great loss (the death of her mother and then her father) despite being only 14 years old. She is forced to leave the only home and friend she's ever known to live with another family far away. Mrs Griffin treats her as a "helpmate", having her live in a poorly constructed shed on the back porch, and help with all house chores. Mr. Griffin remains on the sidelines, unwilling to anger his wife by questioning her actions. Despite becoming close to the other children in the family, her hopes of being treated as a member of the family are continually dashed. The mother is harsh, resentful of her presence, and only concerned with what society thinks of her and her family. She keeps letters from Jesse (best friend), denies Leah the chance to go to school, and is convinced that Leah is promiscuous and simple minded. Unbeknownst to Leah, Mrs. Griffin is actually her Aunt (her Father's sister) and has fought her whole adult life to hide her poor upbringing. Mrs. Griffin gets caught up in the beginning of the eugenics movement by an acquaintance with a Dr. Foster. He is promoting sterilization of young women branded simpleminded. She takes Leah to be sterilized against her will and forever changes her life. Even though Leah eventually is able to return to her "home" with the Barnas family and marries Jesse, she is never able to have children. This book made me sad, angry, and incredulous at the way Leah was treated, but even more so at the truth of sterilizations during that time period.

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3 Stars.
This a beautifully tragic story that deals with the concept of home and what family really is. It also deals with Eugenics and the scars that never heal. What Leah goes through breaks my heart. No 14-year-old should have to through what she goes through. Leah goes through using her mother during childbirth and losing her father at age 14. It leads to staying with a family that does not accept her for who she is and ends with dealing with the consequences of sterilization. Throughout it all, Leah shows such incredible strength. Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the ARC. I look forward to reading more from this author.

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This is a beautifully told story of an orphan girl (Leah) who is sent to live with a family whose matriarch abuses her and subjects her to a procedure that will scar her for the rest of her life. Deprived of an education and her friends left behind in her former life, Leah struggles with the life she now faces. The determination of this young girl is one that the reader will not forget. The beginnings of eugenics is explored in the novel and how this will change Leah. A book that I will suggest for book Clubs and recommend to friends.

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I loved this book so much. Southern fiction is one of my favorites genres and when it's well written, it sticks with you. I enjoy when you can tell the person who wrote it is either from the south, or really did their research. Such was the case for this story.

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The Last Carolina Girl by Meagan Church was a FIVE STAR read! I absolutely loved this historical fiction novel and am eagerly awaiting the author’s next book. It’s not that often that a book makes me cry real tears but this one had me sobbing. I was also swept up in the story so completely that I lost track of time. If you are a fan of southern fiction and/or historical fiction, you don’t want to miss this.

For fourteen-year-old Leah Payne, life in her beloved coastal Carolina town is as simple as it is free. Devoted to her lumberjack father and running through the wilds where the forest meets the shore, Leah’s country life is as natural as the Loblolly pines that rise to greet the Southern sky.

When an accident takes her father’s life, Leah is wrenched from her small community and cast into a family of strangers with a terrible secret. Separated from her only home, Leah is kept apart from the family and forced to act as a helpmate for the well-to-do household. When a moment of violence and prejudice thrusts Leah into the center of the state’s shameful darkness, she must fight for her own future against a world that doesn’t always value the wild spirit of a Carolina girl.

This was a book where I liked the setting, the writing style, the plot, and the tension…basically everything was done so well that I had no choice but to give it five stars on Goodreads. The only problem with an outstanding book like this is that it inevitably has to come to an end.

Keep your eyes out for it when it’s published on March 7, 2023!

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4.5/5 stars
A beautiful and well-written historical fiction full of depth and emotions.

The writing is amazing with vivid descriptions and incredible character development. I do wish the time-frame of the plot was bigger, we get to see Leah grow for a few years and then the plot is disrupted with the epilogue about her future, which was the reason that it wasn’t a solid 5 stars.

However, this book is fantastic. It’s heartbreaking and thought provoking, with a very well-written character. I loved how nature plays an important role in Leah’s life and how it’s her only constant friend. I went in blind and I would recommend readers to do the same, it gives a different perspective of the plot and it makes it even more immersive. My heart was breaking from the very first chapter but I found this story very important and one I wasn’t very aware of.

It’s a story of pain, loss, heartbreak and the struggles of that time and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in historical fiction. I would also recommend reading the Author’s Note since it gives the book so much more meaning and information about this story.

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the book centers around 14 year old Leah in the 1930's. she has to go to foster care after her father dies. really enjoyed this story.

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What a powerful novel! The Last Carolina Girl is a historical fiction/general fiction novel that will definitely stay with me. Set in the mid 1930’s, this coming-of-age tale centers around Leah Payne. At the age of 14, Leah finds herself all alone when her father unexpectedly passes away. From that point, Leah goes into foster care which ultimately forces her to grow up way faster than an average 14 year old ever should have to.

I was so emotionally invested in this novel! I was completely captivated from page one and found Meagan Church create a unforgettable storyline! The characters are well-developed and will pull at every single one of your heartstrings! The Last Carolina is the first book I have read from Meagan Church, but most certainly won’t be my last!

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