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Ferris Beach
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Ferris Beach

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  650 ratings  ·  56 reviews
"A really fine read. . . . A thoroughly believable picture of growing up in a middle-class small-town family in the New South."--The New York Times Book Review. "Whimsically entertaining and dramatically compelling."--The Boston Globe. "One of the best in the new generation of Southern writers."--Atlanta Journal & Constitution.
Paperback, 343 pages
Published October 21st 1997 by Ballantine Books (first published October 1st 1990)
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Best Southern Literature
232nd out of 761 books — 1,842 voters
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Quirky Southern Fiction
245th out of 586 books — 1,473 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,292)
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Jill McCorkle has this uncanny ability to delve deep into the mindset of each and every one of her characters. For this reason, her writing is some of the most relatable and realistic I've encountered. She also writes about the South. And for these reasons...I looooooove her!

My latest of McCorkle reads is Ferris Beach, the story of Mary Katherine "Kitty" Burns growing up in 1970s North Carolina. Kate is the only child of two middle-aged parents, Cleva and Frank, that she finds mismatched, liking...more
Fort some reason this took a hell of a long time to read; either it was longer than it looked in paperback, or it wasn't holding my interest. And in truth it did seem longer than it *needed* to be, while still interesting. Summary: a girl in North Carolina makes best friends with new neighbor, tragedy strikes, love happens, mysterious relative drifts in and out, she comes of age. Characterizations were pretty good, especially the father; not so sure about the plotting.
For some reason this coming-of-age story draws me in almost 20 years after I first read it. There is a certain sense of isolation in Kate's story, and maybe it's those feelings of disconnect that many of us felt as teens that I see mirrored in her story.
Mar 07, 2014 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
I picked this up at a used bookstore because I had fallen in love with a short story by Jill McCorkle years ago and she's one of those authors I have on a list to hunt for when I get a chance. Maybe I picked the wrong novel to start with, but Ferris Beach didn't enchant me. It was a fine coming of age story, but the plot really wandered and at times didn't seem to really exist at all. I was never dying to see what happened next. It was kind of like really just being a fly on the wall in a teenag...more
Michelle Canick
As I've said before, I'm a sucker for a good coming of age story. Great characters, interesting relationships, and overall a good balance of happy & sad, though with one particularly disturbing scene.
Jill McCorkle has what so many great writers have: Voice. I have had the pleasure of hearing her read at Bennington College several times, and have been mesmerized by the sound of her actual voice each time. When I finally bought Ferris Beach and opened it to the first page, it was her writing voice that kept me going all the way through.
McCorkle's attention to detail brings the reader back to the mid-1970s. The characters and setting seem so real, that I found myself on Google Earth trying t...more
Read this while we were also reading "White Gloves and Collards" by Helen Pruden Kaufman, and both had many events reminiscent of "To Kill a Mockingbird" I thought...
McCorkle has been writing marvelous Southern fiction for twenty years, just impressing the hell out of me. I hope she keeps it up for a very long time.
Really excellent - the teenage protagonist is believable and she has complex and interesting relationships with her parents and other characters in the book.
could not get through this.
I can't really put my finger on why I loved this book so much. I didn't ever feel in awe of the writing, but maybe that's part of it; the writing was seamless and powerful, so I didn't really notice it. I stayed up late several nights to read more, and that says a lot. McCorkle is a wonderful story-teller, and she creates a great balance between character and plot. This book was beautiful, sad, and very rooted in its setting. Just a great book, really. I'm going to pick up more of her work from...more
One of my new favorite southern writers. Author born in Lumberton, NC. her fiction has been four times selected by The New York Times Book Review for its Notable Books of the Year list. She teaches creative writing at Harvard and Bennington, lives in Boston with husband and children.
Colorful small-town characters, story of changing South of the 1970's. It tells of a young girl and her "foundling" cousin; and of a love that bridges social classes. The story contains tenderness, innocence, pain an...more
It was enjoyable. Nothing profound but it moved right along.
Honestly if I could give this book ten stars I would! I usually swallow books but for some reason tried to stretch this one out as long as possible. One of the reasons is being so intertwined with the characters. I laughed, I cried, I grew along with them. It also made me relive my own time as a teenager, so much is unknown at that age. Innocence being key and learning from mistakes. I honestly loved every page and wished it never ended.
Nari (The Novel World)
Ferris Beach by Jill McCorkle is a simple coming of age story, following the lives of two girls from the age of ten into their late teenage years. The narrator, Katherine Mary (aka Kitty) Burns befriends the spunky daughter of the new family in their small neighborhood in the 1970s, and are soon inseparable, sharing every moment in their lives, from tragedies to love and high school.
For some reason, I really struggled with the first few pages and put this book down for a while, but I'm so glad that I picked it back up again. I thought that it was very easy to relate to the characters once I crossed that hurdle. Ferris Beach is a nicely written coming-of-age story about complicated family relationships and learning too early about the challenges and sadness that life can hold.
Cecelia Hightower
Growing up in the seventies, two girls are defined by their parents/family idiosyncrasies, changes in the neighborhood, and friendship. I really struggled with the first few pages but I'm happy to have completed the story. It was easy to relate to the characters and the complicated family relationships.
Ronya Misleh
Not as good as I remembered it being. Read it in college for my Southern Women Writers class. Remember getting all her other books...but can't recall if I read them. This wasn't very long but I felt myself trudging through it, waiting to get to a part that reminded me why I had liked it so much. Really, it may have been just because it wasn't Heart of Darkness or Canterbury Tales.
Nov 06, 2012 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michael by: NOOK daily book
Shelves: 2012, southern-lit
This book for me was one of those that you start reading not really knowing much about the story. Some books immerse you more than others for a number of reasons, and this is one of those books. I felt like I was a participant within the novel and right there with the characters throughout. It's a 3.5 but I'm going to round it down to 3 stars. It just didn't have that umph.
Lynda Stauffer
My first Jill McCorkle. I can still feel the shade under the house in this book. Hear each character's voice. This is a story that takes place in a small town not far from the ocean, in NC. It features three families, each very different, and the friendships of the two PRE-teen girls and one boy. There's a lot in this book, if you take it all in. Very good story.
Nicki H

This was almost moved to the abandoned shelf...but I stuck with it and very glad i did. Although I would have preferred to rate it 3.5 stars over 4 it was one of the better books I have read in awhile and have been on a 3 star rating kick so 4 it is! The story picked up about 50 pages in and once it did I was totally invested. Good plot and great characters.
For some reason I always expect Jill McCorkle's books are going to be light-hearted comedies. But they aren't, there are always serious challenges and sad occurrences. Ferris Beach was no exception. I love the characters she creates, and I always want things to turn out well for them.
It took me a few chapters to really get into Ferris Beach, but after I did, it was so easy to become wrapped up in the story. I found myself waking up early to read the next few chapters, to see what bit of misfortune happened to fall on Kate or her neighbors. Loved it!
McCorkle has a new book coming out that's supposed to be good, so while I was waiting, I decided to read this one. I didn't care for it all that much: it was too long, and I didn't feel like that much got resolved in the length of time the book used to tell its story.
Wanted to read something by one of the local authors I keep seeing mention of. This book was okay...a coming-of-age story of two girls in North Carolina in the 1970s. Nothing spectacular about it, though pretty well written.
Jill McCorkle so perfectly nails the details of growing up in the South in the 70's that it sort of gave me the weird sensation of reading my own diary. She also gets the constant yearning of being a teenager just right.
Anna Fishel
Well done in terms of character development. The book did have one little "lull" in the action that made me wonder just where it was going but she did a nice job of moving the story on and keeping me engaged.
Elena Varipatis
I would give this 3.5 stars, if I could. I liked it and it was well written, but felt a little drawn out in places and didn't offer a ton of resolution in some places where I wished it had.
Very good, believable, readable, honest and real. I loved these characters, and you could almost touch the purple shag carpet, the descriptions were so good. Great book.
Sara Smith
3.5 stars...there were some parts of the story that I really enjoyed reading, but other times the writing was so back and forth distracting me that it was easy to lose focus.
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Five of Jill McCorkle's seven previous books have been named New York Times Notables. Winner of the New England Booksellers Award, the Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature, she has taught writing at the University of North Carolina, Bennington College, Tufts University, and Harvard. She lives near Boston with her husband, their two children, se...more
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