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Ferris Beach

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  808 Ratings  ·  72 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
270th out of 880 books — 2,189 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,603)
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Dec 22, 2009 Kari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-fiction
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
Feb 17, 2015 Robin rated it really liked it
A 70's coming of age story. Great companion for snowy weather!
Jan 04, 2010 Yak rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 16, 2015 Holly rated it it was amazing
I used to read this book constantly when I was younger. I would always check it out from the public library over and over. I found a hardback copy of the book at my local Goodwill and had to buy it.

When I started reading, I was bored. I couldn't for the life of me remember why I had liked the book so much. But I trudged on.

And then I remembered. I had always wished my life had been exciting like theirs was. A secret boyfriend in the woods, school functions (which we never had), a bff next door (
Mar 02, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 16, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a basic read, but entertaining. It made me cry, which isn't an easy task, but it was also touching on something that just happens to be going on in my own life too, so I was sensitive to it. However, it was all done very well. This is your basic coming of age story, however unlike other basic coming of age stories, I actually felt like this one was incredibly realistic. The interactions between the characters, the way situations developed, all very life lik ...more
Jen K.
Mar 07, 2014 Jen K. rated it liked it
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
Jun 18, 2015 Meghan rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorites. I've read it 3 times over the years, and will keep it on my shelf and continue to reread it. I love the characters and can really relate to Katie. They're all so REAL. I like how Katie is used as the narrator, as opposed to the story being told in the third person. She observes the things going on around her and watches everything play out. The tone does change at the end, and I'm not crazy about it, but it's intentional. I can't say much more without a spoiler alert ...more
Mar 21, 2015 Jenny added it
Recorded in AR journal. Teacher's comments: "Your YA story showed great imagination. Your writing will really blossom in high school." Later, she saw how fast I was reading and asked "Will you need another book for the break?"
Michelle Canick
May 16, 2014 Michelle Canick rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 30, 2013 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
anne darnay
Just ok

An easy read but very little substance. I kept waiting for the story to develop. Primarily a coming of age story.
Would not recommend
Aug 27, 2014 Kathryn rated it liked it
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...
Jan 16, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
Coming of age story in McCorkle's tradional southern style. Filled with the usual cast of eccentric characters.
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.
Jul 28, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Surprised at the number of typos though!
Feb 03, 2016 Lori rated it it was amazing
Thank you Tracey and Barb! I enjoyed listening to this book. The people were so real to me. Every character had dimension--good qualities, bad qualities. I loved how music threaded through the story line connecting me to a time and culture I can remember. There were tragedies and recoveries and his pie for the future. I highly recommend this book.
Jan 18, 2015 Noel rated it really liked it
interesting coming of age but a bit slow in parts
Jan 25, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
Really excellent - the teenage protagonist is believable and she has complex and interesting relationships with her parents and other characters in the book.
Apr 03, 2014 Julie rated it did not like it
could not get through this.
May 23, 2013 Mick rated it it was amazing
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
May 27, 2009 Peg rated it liked it
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
Oct 22, 2014 Ann rated it liked it
It was enjoyable. Nothing profound but it moved right along.
Sep 24, 2013 Angelica rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 14, 2011 Kendra rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 12, 2016 Tammy rated it really liked it
This author has great wit!
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
Oct 31, 2012 Ronya Misleh rated it it was ok
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 liked it
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.
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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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