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My name is Chelsey and I am the creator of Charming Chelsey's! I read and review anything and everything that I find to be "charming." I accept ARCs or already released books for review, and I'm also available to participate in any blog tours or book reveals too. If anything, please don't hesitate to email me any time for any reason at: charmingchelseys(at)gmail(dot)com

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Book Review: The Wisdom of Hair

Author: Kim Boykin
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publisher: Berkley Trade

Life can be beautiful, but it takes a little work...
“The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.”
In 1983, on her nineteenth birthday, Zora Adams finally says goodbye to her alcoholic mother and their tiny town in the mountains of South Carolina. Living with a woman who dresses like Judy Garland and brings home a different man each night is not a pretty existence, and Zora is ready for life to be beautiful.

With the help of a beloved teacher, she moves to a coastal town and enrolls in the Davenport School of Beauty. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Cathcart, she learns the art of fixing hair, and becomes fast friends with the lively Sara Jane Farquhar, a natural hair stylist. She also falls hard for handsome young widower Winston Sawyer, who is drowning his grief in bourbon. She couldn’t save Mama, but maybe she can save him.

As Zora practices finger waves, updos, and spit curls, she also comes to learn that few things are permanent in this life—except real love, lasting friendship, and, ultimately… forgiveness
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The problem with cutting your own hair is that once you start, you just keep cutting, trying to fix it, and the truth is, some things can never be fixed. The day of my daddy’s funeral, I cut my bangs until they were the length of those little paintbrushes that come with dime-store watercolor sets. I was nine years old. People asked me why I did it, but I was too young then to know I was changing my hair because I wanted to change my life.

Love is a strange bird, lighting wherever it pleases, sometimes like a skittish little wren, sometimes like a bold red-tailed hawk. Winston’s love must have been like one of those Canadian geese that choose to wander the world alone after they lose their mate. My feelings for him were more of the wren variety, stealing glimpses of him through lace curtains. Trying to say “I love you” with pot roast alongside creamed potatoes and scratch biscuits, instead of simple words.

Even by mountain standards, the beauty-school clientele wasn’t high class; haircuts were only three dollars. Customers were allowed to tip, but hardly anybody did. Sometimes customers came in drunk or high. One lady even came in to escape the locusts that she imagined were everywhere. But after two or three trips to the nursing home, nobody ever complained about the customers that walked in off the street.

“Class, if you give a woman a good hairdo, she will crawl to you on her deathbed for you to fix her hair. A woman whose hair has been properly colored is a customer for life. Let me assure all of you, there is great honor in making a woman in your charge look and feel beautiful. This is indeed one of life’s highest callings.”

They cut and colored and fixed each other’s hair like they were fixing their lives.



Once again another southern tale read by me this month! The south is just so full of tradition, history, and culture that it is so hard for me to deny books that are set in its rolling hills and luscious lands. As a young girl, my mother worked in a beauty salon, and I would spend my summer days there with her and with all the other vibrant characters that dawned the front doors on a daily basis as well. The women were always chattering so loudly and full of life, and I remember feeling such a joyful feeling when I was there. I have never been interested in doing hair myself, but when I saw this new book by Kim Boykin, I knew that I would have to give it a try.

Zora Adams is used to a life of abandon and despair. Her mother is an alcoholic and her father has been deceased for many years. Zora is used to seeing a different man’s face every evening, when her mother brings them home from a rowdy night at the local bar. And to be quite honest, Zora is tired of it. When her high school English teacher offers to rescue her from her horrid home life, Zora obliges. She embarks on a new life and starts to follow her own dreams; one of those being to learn how to do hair. Miss Cunningham, her teacher, arranges a place for Zora to stay taking care of a lonely widower and his homestead. Zora doesn’t expect him to be so young and attractive, and neither does she expect to fall head over heels in love with him!

I love the atmosphere and the lovely characters that make up the beauty school in which Zora attends. I especially love the relationship between Zora and her teacher, Mrs. Cathcart. Zora’s new friend, Sara Jane, adds a bit of spice to the novel as well. She is amazing with hair and a true rebel in life; my kind of girl. She helps Zora break out of her shell and free from the life she used to live. The only thing that I would have liked have been different was the amount of “salon talk.” When I think of a southern beauty salon, I think of gossiping, chatty women who cannot get enough of each other. I wish there would have been more of that, but I am not complaining as I still enjoyed the company of the women in Zora’s life.

Zora’s story is inspirational and as soon as I started reading the book I already hated her mother and was ready for her to break free from her. Zora’s new life is still a little shaky and she goes from living with one alcoholic to living with another, but Zora see the light at the end of the tunnel. I loved her affections toward Winston and I loved her naïve nature when she was around him. These characters were all so vibrant and the small southern town felt very real to me!

***A HUGE thank you to the publishers at Berkley Trade for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***








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