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Leigh: The Women of Ivy Manor    by Lyn Cote order for
by Lyn Cote
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Linda Leigh Sinclair was born to her mother Bette right after the end of World War II. She is raised in the sheltered environment of Ivy Manor and has never known hardship or wanted for anything. In the summer of 1963, her family is visited by the Dawsons, old family friends who happen to be black. Leigh realizes how sheltered her life has been when she spends time talking with Frank Dawson, an older college boy.

Leigh greatly desires to go to Washington D.C. to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech, but Bette will not hear of it. She wants to shelter Leigh from the potential danger involved. With Frank's help, Leigh attends the march anyway, setting a new path in motion for her life. Leigh becomes a journalist and gets involved with the civil rights movement as well as protests against Vietnam. Even though she is more knowledgeable about the world now, Leigh makes some poor choices and gets caught in a large mess, drawing the shame and scorn of her family. Can she and her mother come to a place of forgiveness?

As the third book in a series, Leigh gives enough information for those who haven't read the two previous novels to be quickly drawn into the story. Yet series fans will also revisit familiar characters and locations. This is a truly character driven story, and the reader can understand the dynamics that fuel Leigh's decision making and her actions. Although she's tempestuous and does what she wants regardless of what her parents say, she still knows what is best for her life and remains in college despite draws elsewhere. Leigh suffers her share of heartache, which might be the pivotal point for her bad choices.

At times, this almost seems like a current events of the 60s and 70s story. The author tries so hard to include every single important event and issue of the times, that it often overshadows the main plot. Although this is a Christian novel, the spiritual message is understated. Overall, Leigh is a pleasant and sometimes moving story, but doesn't provide anything groundbreaking in the way of plot. The fourth and final book in the series, Carly, will follow soon.

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