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Strong for Potatoes: A Novel
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Strong for Potatoes: A Novel

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  185 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Cynthia Thayer's acclaimed debut novel, Strong for Potatoes, is the resonant story of the difficult youth of Blue Willoughby, a remarkable girl growing up in eastern Maine. In a life beset by tragedy, beginning with the death of her twin sister Berry only days after their birth, Blue must discover on her own strength she needs to survive.

Blue's true ally is her grandfather
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 15th 1999 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1998)
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Jun 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I thought this book had promise. I liked the Native American references. This book, however, was twisted into the politically correct overused LGBT crap that seems to be required for books to be published in today's world.
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Because of such simple, straightforward prose, especially in the first pages, I wasn't sure I was going to like it or give it much of a good rating, as much as I did her later novel, A Certain Slant of Light. I must say though the author really does have a knack for heartfelt stories that blend just the right amount of light and melancholy. Whether one's passion is a person or a thing or a belief, the book shows how we can trust our intuitions and take care of our passions. I personally couldn' ...more
Karen King
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel touches upon every possible societal topic today and handles them in a really nice manner. Greatly interesting with many character surprises.
Jul 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Curious story about a young woman, Blue, living in Maine, who is part Passamaquoddy. She endures an accident when young that leaves her partly disabled. She suffers some small amount of curiosity and prejudice from other children because of her disability, but finds that prejudice is much stronger when she reveals her Native American heritage.

While still a girl, she frequently stays with her grandfather on the reservation. It is here that she meets an elderly basketmaker who shows her her craft,
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Starts deceptively innocent. An easy read, almost as if written for a youth market. Content becomes disturbing and draws the reader in a voyeuristic journey in which happy endings are elusive. I wondered how to read the title - it fact, it was the title that drew me to the book.

The main character (in first person narrative) endures many hardships as we follow her from youth to independence. Growing up in Maine among potatoes and Penobscots, our narrator spends a summer learning to make baskets
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I was only going to give this book 4 stars because it took me several tries to finish it - which is much more about me as a reader than it is about the book... but I read the second "half" in one sitting yesterday, and... well, it made me cry.

My heritage is from the State o' Maine, I know a little something about northeast ash-splint baskets and basketmaking families... everything rang true. I liked that. I expected it to have a minor fluffy detail here and there, but the author seems to know he
Jodee Clark
Nov 03, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was an easy read for me. I would not recommend it for any one who will be offended by same sex relations and described sex scenes. If you can get past that this is a wonderful story about survival, love and make the most of ones lifes and the trajedies that are thrown at you.

Blue was a likeable and resilient character. By the end she had really learned how to control her own destiny. The symbolism in the baskets was a great comparison for life.

Cherie In the Dooryard
I should not have liked this book as much as I did, given that it comes from the "let's make a lot of horrible things happen to a passive person and call it 'growth'" genre. And it has cross-over with the "everyone is sympathetic except for the cold mother, she's just awful" genre--another plot device I have no interest in. And yet, I still am glad I read it and would recommend it.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
When one twin lives and the other dies, when the living twin loses an eye and some mobility in an accident five years later, how does a family move into the future? Blue Willoughby has her Grandpa to ground her in the ways of their ancestors on the Passamaquoddy reservation in eastern Maine as she treads the waters of her adolescence.
Nov 24, 2011 rated it liked it

I didn't love this book but didn't not like it. Loved the relationship between Blue & grandpa. He was my favorite character. What a wonderful way to leave this world. Obviously her parents were awful. Brian, too, was quite loveable.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
This book is an easy read and well-enough written. The plot is fairly predictable. A Native American woman is born a twin, but her sister does not survive past birth. The story is essentially about the effect of this event on her family.
Jun 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved everything about this book. Sometimes I don't like Maine books because they don't seem real. Both Cynthia Thayer books I have read have been the opposite--wonderful story, characters and setting.
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
OK, I have to be honest, the title made me pull it off the bookshelf. But once I read the flap and saw what it was about, I knew it was right up my alley - especially with the Native American connection. A really good read!
Lindsay Nichols
A big thanks to the Goodreads person who suggested this book to me...I have forgotten your name, but the book was great!

I loved the way the story flipping through old photos.
Lynne Swadel
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lynne by: Found it on Rhoda's shelves
Wonderful picture of rural Maine Passamoquoddy life as well as a character study. Well written and poignant
Carol Eshaghy
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Story of a part Indian girl who is mentored in life by her Indian grandfather. I would add an extra 1/2 star.
Ho hum...a good summer read
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing

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Patricia Johnson
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Cindy Wamsley
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Apr 20, 2009
Ellen Punyon
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Aug 08, 2015
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Jun 22, 2017
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Aug 15, 2012
Sarah Lynn
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Aug 05, 2010
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Jul 12, 2011
Lauren Ubaldo
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Jan 12, 2013
Sherry (sethurner)
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Cynthia Underwood Thayer was born in New York City in 1944, raised in Nova Scotia and migrated to Maine via Massachusetts in 1976 to farm organically. For many years she was a weaver, showing her work throughout Maine and the east coast. Seventeen years ago, at the age of 50, she wrote her first short story, which was published in the Antigonish Review, and was hooked on writing.

She earned her BA
More about Cynthia Thayer...