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The Boots My Mother Gave Me    by Brooklyn James order for
Boots My Mother Gave Me
by Brooklyn James
Order:  USA  Can
CreateSpace, 2011 (2011)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Leslie McKee

'If love is so good, why does it hurt sometimes?' This is a question that has plagued Harley LeBeau most of her young life. Living with an alcoholic and abusive father, Harley has been damaged by his words and actions more times than she can count. Even still, his few good actions could almost outweigh the bad. One of those times is when her father gives her a guitar to help with her songwriting - a dream Harley has had for as long as she can remember.

Anxious to leave her small home town to pursue her dreams, Harley packs up Charlene (her 1970 Chevelle SS 396) and heads out into the world. She takes with her the boots her mother gave her as a 'reminder to stay on track' every day. Harley has no desire to seek love, as she fears any man she cares for could end up acting like her father.

Jeremiah 'Miah' Johnson is the one exception. He has been Harley's friend and neighbor since age four. After graduation, Miah joins the Marines. Working odd jobs along the way, Harley is able to see the country and experience life, returning home when family situations arise. After an altercation with Harley, her father ends up arrested and then in rehab. For a while, he becomes the father she longed for - even helping her with college tuition. Having various relationships, Harley never saw herself settling down ... until she meets Xander. Things get a bit complicated when Miah is injured in Afghanistan and Harley offers to care for him, as she has been working as a nurse. Harley believes she was made for so much more. How will Miah and her family fit in?

Harley, through Brooklyn, leaves the reader with this empowering message: 'Within each of us, there lies the innate ability to survive, triumph, and overcome, rewriting the scripts of our own lives, having some power over our fates and the fate of generations to come. Nothing has to be just because that's the way it's always been.'

For a debut author, Brooklyn James has a flair with words that could rival many veterans. Her characters are so realistic, they feel like old friends. The first person point of view and vivid descriptions pull you in from the beginning. While the ending is satisfying, you may find yourself wanting more. With its accompanying soundtrack, The Boots My Mother Gave Me may be custom-made for a movie. Inspiring and original, this coming-of-age novel attests to the fact that Brooklyn James has a promising career ahead.

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