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Where the Lilies Bloom
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Where the Lilies Bloom

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,808 Ratings  ·  181 Reviews
Mary Call has true Appalachian grit. When her dying father makes her promise to keep her brother and sisters together forever on the mountain and take no help from strangers, she is determined to keep her word. No matter what.
Hardcover, 211 pages
Published September 18th 2001 by Turtleback Books (first published 1969)
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Popular Answered Questions

Joey Eden
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Dave Boyer I believe she is named Mary Call because she may have been "born in the caul". These babies are born either completely or partially in the amniotic…moreI believe she is named Mary Call because she may have been "born in the caul". These babies are born either completely or partially in the amniotic sac and are by some believed to have special talents or powers of prophecy. Sailors prized the caul believing it would prevent them from drowning. Kiser Pease first name is very similar to Kaiser, the German word for King or Emperor. Many immigrants from Germany settled in the Appalachians and it would be a common first name signifying strength or nobility or privilege.

These answers may come after your play in June but I hope it may help in some way.(less)

Community Reviews

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Dec 30, 2008 HeavyReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of stories about orphans
Shelves: young-adult
I can't believe I have been on GoodReads for over a year and just remembered this book! I read it so many times when I was in middle school-it was one of my favorites!

I loved books like this one that were about kids who had to make it in the world alone because their parents are absent for some reason. (In this book, the parents were absent because they were DEAD!) I think I was drawn to that plot line because I just wanted my parents to leave me along. (Not that I wanted them dead. I didn't par
Linda Lipko
Sep 26, 2010 Linda Lipko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1969, this incredible YA book received numerous awards including a National Book Award finalist, New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and the ALA Notable Children’s Book.

This is a touching, moving, realistic portrayal of poverty in the Trail Valley of the Appalachian Great Smokey Mountains of NE North Carolina.

Mary Call was 14 when her father died, leaving her with unrealistic promises to fulfill and three sibling
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
What a story!

Mary Call is thrust into the position of provider for the three siblings after her father sickens and dies. She and her brother covertly bury him on their property, and they must keep up the pretense that he is still in the sickroom with outsiders. Mary Call is a strong fourteen-year-old, and she courageously schemes and plots to secure the land and home and food for her family while railing against her chief adversary, Kaiser Pease.

You won't run across a stronger girl character th
I read this for a book report assignment over the summer before sixth grade. I liked the setting for the book, very rustic; plus, I love mountains and all that. And looking back on it I really like how strong a character Mary Call is. She does whatever is necessary to keep her family together and healthy. Another book I might have to revisit one day.
Suzanne Moore
I saw this movie years ago (1970s?) and never realized it was based on a book until I taught middle school and found the book. Of course I had to read it with students, since I loved the movie so much! I think part of the attraction was the setting, the Appalachian Mountains, but in the movie I fell in love with Mary Call. Mary Call is a 14 yr-old girl who is left to care for her siblings after her parents die. Before her father passed on he made Mary Call promise to keep the family together and ...more
May 01, 2009 drowningmermaid rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was required reading in grade school. The descriptions of poverty were evocative, but somewhat long-winded. What I remember most is that the TEACHER despised the book, and gave us as little work from it as possible. Validation for my feeling of dull.

What I found the most irritating was the resolution: the retarded older sister suddenly becomes well enough to see the need of her family and take charge.
Oct 16, 2015 Meredith rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got the book and it smelled like poo. I thought it was just the book,so I got a new one and that smelled like poo too. So I actually opened the book and read it, then I realized what it was. This book is a piece of poo.
Jan 29, 2017 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well told story of what it was like to be mountain people in the deep south, sharecropping and how they deal with life after a family tragedy of major loss. Judging from the references, this could take place anytime from post WWII to the mid 1960s. It doesn't really reference any significant point in time or history. It's a judgement call but that takes nothing away from the story.
Oct 02, 2011 Kristi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a memory of this book burned into my mind from grade school. It must have been my favorite book (though I'd forgotten the plot completely), but I could remember the picture on the cover and it's exact location in my school library. I have memories of me going to it's location and just staring at the cover. So I decided now, in my 40's, to re-read the book.
For 3/4 of the book, I kept thinking, "what did I see in this book? It's so dumb." The parents of 4 Appalation children are both dead,
Mar 02, 2008 Rhapsody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, fiction
I read this when I was a kid. Probably I loved it so much because it had such a strong female protagonist. I honestly can't remember the details of when and where, but you have a group of siblings who for whatever reason have no parents but are still living in their small house in an isolated area. The land lord wants to marry the oldest daughter, who's beautiful but a bit simple. The second oldest girl is the one in charge, and you get to see her struggle to keep her family together and continu ...more
Erin O'Riordan
Jan 31, 2013 Erin O'Riordan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally read this in grade school - some time around the sixth grade - and I remembered liking it very much. I misremembered some of the details - I'd thought Roy Luther was a coal miner rather than a sharecropper. I enjoyed reading it again as an adult, although I now realize the quality of the writing isn't as good as it possibly could be. Still, this is a fascinating story of a 14-year-old Appalachian girl in North Carolina trying to keep her siblings together after their father becomes ...more
Apr 12, 2009 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one probably deserves 3.5 stars. It was a re-read for me; I remember reading it as a kid and seeing the movie. I like the strong central female character who IS NOT an ignorant hillbilly. The descriptions of rural poverty and the beauty of the NC mountains were very good. Interesting descriptions of wildcrafting as the kids try to support themselves by harvesting medicinal herbs, roots and bark. Kids who have been through tough times will find an accurate mirror to their own experience here ...more
Jan 14, 2012 Valerie rated it liked it
I got this while attending a book fair and they gave away a bunch of books that had been donated, there were at least ten thousand. I got this book after seeing the movie many years ago. I hate to say it, i likeed the movie better. But overall it was a good book and I felt some pity towards Mary Call, knowing what it was like to be in that situation but me doing a thousand times worse than what she did. I also felt some comptent towards Romey and Devola especially who were either carefree or whi ...more
Apr 02, 2016 Tereza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2015 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of my favorites when I was a young teen. Interesting how the story has changed since then :)
Oct 15, 2015 Nimi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i hated it
Joey Eden
Oct 31, 2016 Joey Eden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who have had to grow up too quickly
Recommended to Joey by: Vicky Town
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 16, 2016 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen-adult
This was beautifully written with an utterly spunky and determined 14 year old girl as the protagonist. It has all the feel of a pioneer novel set in the 1800s, but in actuality I was surprised to realize that it is set in 1960s Appalachia. It was eye-opening to see what actual poverty looked like in the not very distant past, and makes me wonder what conditions are like now.
Amber Scaife
Feb 18, 2017 Amber Scaife rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 14-year-old girl in Appalachia struggles to hold her family together after both her parents die, keeping their orphanhood secret from the adults around them and taking up wildcrafting to survive.
A harsh tale, fairly softly told. I enjoyed it mostly, although the ending was a bit too pat, really.
Elizabeth Kenning
Did not find it in me to finish. The writing was charming enough and Mary was funny and smart, but the plot didn't grip me and I found myself reading other books instead. Oh well, maybe someday I'll go back and finish it.
Feb 19, 2011 Shelley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2009 Carlyna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I happened upon this book at the library. Logan and I went so that I could have a "good" experience there and want to go back. I'm not much for libraries! The books I went there to get were checked out which was annoying, but then I came up with a plan. I would go to the teens section and pick out a book at random.

So I strolled down the isles and saw this book. I liked the title so I thought, why not? This is a great book for young readers. It kept my interest and was a fast read. Success! The
CCIP Middle School
Where the Lilies Bloom (Vera & Bill Cleaver, 1969) is the story of Mary Call Luther, a 14 year old Appalachian girl, who struggles to keep her family alive and unharmed in the face of unthinkable hardship. After the death of their mother, Mary Call and her three siblings are raised by their proud yet kind-hearted father until he too becomes unceasingly ill. Mary Call takes on the role of family leader, family protector, and the progenitor of the Luther family's values and pride.

Armed with th
Lily Dunn
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jordan Anderson
I know that "Where the Lilies Bloom" is quite a ways from my normal reading material. But when you're a creative writing student on his last quarter until his BA, sometimes you get stuck with assignments that involve reading old-school, and more modern day classics.

Generally speaking, I don't enjoy assigned texts. Aside from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Great Gatsby" (which I fell in love with many years AFTER high school), most things that the literary geniuses think are great works of art
Oct 02, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I love Appalachian fiction, and this book ranks among one of my new favorites. The authors do an excellent job of depicting the proud, stubborn, and loyal people of the region through the main character Mary Call. Even though it's hard, she does what is required for the survival of her family, and she keeps her promises to her father at all costs. Her pride is almost her downfall, but Mary Call maintains her dignity. Even in the end, she and her siblings continued to forage for herbs and roots t
Jul 04, 2011 Carrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Shelves: books-i-own
When Roy Luther dies his four children become orphans. Mary Call, who is 14, obeys her father’s wishes and becomes the new mouth piece taking on the responsibility of raising her siblings. Not only is the daily task of making ends meet hard, but so is hiding the fact that Roy Luther is dead. If the Luther’s Appalachian neighbors and town’s folk found out, the children would be separated and sent off to group homes. Can they work together gathering mountain herbs to sell while hiding their secret ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book and the experience reading it was so important to me as a kid. I think it might have been the first time when I realized that books could be written by people like us, about people from here, and that it could be good, and compelling, and mean something. What I really remember is that Mr. Cox, just out of college, had the opportunity to teach an Appalachia class (I have no idea why they actually let him do had to be his idea) and I was lucky enough to be in that class. I'd st ...more
Jan 04, 2016 Andria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read this for the first time since childhood, and it made me realize why I never really took to the Little House on the Prairie books. Compared to Mary Call Luther, Laura Ingalls is SOFT. Laura could always count on Ma and Pa to provide comfort and wisdom and fresh baked bread or whatnot. Mary Call's Ma has been dead for years and when her Pa dies too, she has to lug his dead body, wrapped in a bedsheet and stuffed into her little brother's red wagon, up a freaking MOUNTAIN and dig his grav ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Sonya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vera Cleaver presented life in the mountains for this family well. As the oldest of children, Mary Call watched their dad give up on life and die. She finds strength,not giving up, but in keeping her dad's wishes, even to burying him without telling the town's people. At fourteen, she struggles with making money and keeping the town's people from knowing they are without any parents to watch them.

Their struggles get harder.
You hold to her strength as she tries not to cry when her younger broth
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After her first book, The Nurse's Dilemma (1966), most of her magazine articles and 16 novels for children were written with her husband, Bill.

Together, they produced more than a dozen novels for young adults. Their subject matter reveals a particular interest in mountain children who have both physical and mental problems. The Cleavers were three times nominated for the National Book Award, and t
More about Vera Cleaver...

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