The true history of Lyndie B. Hawkins

Gail Shepherd

Book - 2019

When twelve-year-old Lyndie and her parents must move to her grandparents' home in small-town Tennessee in 1985, having to keep all family problems private only adds to their problems.--

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New York, NY : Kathy Dawson Books [2019]
Physical Description
297 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Gail Shepherd (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Lyndie, 11, is pretty happy with her life in Love's Forge, Tennessee, circa 1985. But then her father, a Vietnam vet, loses his job, and the family must move in with her paternal grandparents. Rule-happy, highfalutin Lady and her granddaughter are destined to butt heads, and do. But Lady's just a part of Lyndie's troubles. Her father has started drinking and disappearing, her mother is depressed, and Lyndie can't share her troubles with her best friend, Dawn, which leads to a rift. To cap it off, D.B., a reform-school boy offered a second chance, comes to live at Dawn's, adding further complications. The framing story of how veterans can struggle is not unusual, but debut author Shepherd gives it new life by filling it with layered characters who jump off the page. Lyndie's narration is frank and funny, but it's her love of research and history that sets her apart as she tries to acclimate herself to a changed environment that puzzles and stifles her. Yet she manages to learn more about herself and others, often fighting all the way. Occasionally, the characters don't quite ring true (D.B.'s optimism seems off, considering all he's been through), but Shepherd does a fine job of juggling relationships, plot, and the push/pull between reality and hope. Grades 5-7. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Which is more important: telling the truth or "honorable lying" out of loyalty to family? In 1985, this question plagues 11-year-old Lyndon Baines Hawkins (named after the 36th U.S. president), especially now that she and her parents have been living with her paternal grandparents in Love's Forge, Tenn., since her father, a troubled Vietnam vet, lost his job. Lyndie, a Civil War history buff and a "stubborn, sassy know-it-all," faces a stiff adversary in her stuffy grandmother, Lady, who values saving face at all costs to preserve the family reputation. The dynamic between the two plays out in Shepherd's crackling debut, which—in addition to examining the importance of truth on both a personal and a historical level—tackles alcoholism, PTSD, and juvenile crime. The story moves at a quick pace as Lyndie struggles to understand why her father has become so different and her mother so withdrawn; a strong counterpoint to Lyndie's family troubles is the development of her friendship with the "criminal boy" living with her best friend Dawn's family. Noteworthy for its strong narrative voice and dramatic character development, including well-drawn secondary figures, this book depicts both the troubling and uplifting vicissitudes of family and camaraderie with unflinching honesty and humor. Ages 10–up. (Mar.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 6–8—Lyndie likes getting to the truth of things but family stories, like history, are not always straightforward, often leading to more questions than answers. After losing his job, Lyndie's father, a Vietnam vet, moves the family to his parents' house. Living with Grandma Lady isn't easy either as it's her life's mission to mold Lyndie into a proper lady, even if it means grounding her for minor infractions until adulthood. No one can explain why her father paces the floor at night and makes frequent trips to the hidden whiskey bottle in the family car. After a series of disturbing episodes, it becomes apparent that things are hardly what they seem. At school, Lyndie befriends D.B., a boy from a juvenile detention center boarding with her best friend's family. While working together on a school project, Lyndie starts to make some sense of the discord in her home life, whilst resolving some of the discord in D.B.'s life. This debut novel offers a stark glimpse into the harsh realities of life after the Vietnam War, something not often illuminated in novels for the young. Hard-hitting themes of military conflict, PTSD, substance abuse, and suicide intermingle with familial support, finding one's purpose in life, and truth-seeking to produce an evocative story of healing and hope. Shepherd capably captures Lyndie's voice, replete with energy and spirit, as well as the local flavor of Love's Forge, TN, where the book is set. VERDICT A promising debut suitable for mid- to large-sized collections.—Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

When her love of history is unable to fill the gaps in her family's Vietnam War experiences, Lyndie befriends an openhearted boy on parole from the local juvenile detention center against the wishes of a grandmother who wants to mold her into a proper Southern girl. A first novel. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

When twelve-year-old Lyndie and her parents must move to her grandparents' home in small-town Tennessee in 1985, having to keep all family problems private only adds to their problems.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A Publishers Weekly Flying Start ** A Booklist Editors' Choice ** A Junior Library Guild selection ** Four starred reviews!Family + Loyalty = Keeping SecretsWhen it comes to American history or defending the underdog or getting to the bottom of things, no one outsmarts or outfights Lyndie B. Hawkins. But as far as her family goes, her knowledge is full of holes: What exactly happened to Daddy in Vietnam? Why did he lose his job? And why did they have to move in with her grandparents? Grandma Lady's number one rule is Keep Quiet About Family Business. But when her beloved daddy goes missing, Lyndie faces a difficult choice: follow Lady's rule and do nothing--which doesn't help her father--or say something and split her family right down the middle.