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Gentle's Holler

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  377 ratings  ·  66 reviews
The sixties may have come to other parts of North Carolina, but with Mama pregnant again, Daddy struggling to find work, and nine siblings underfoot, nobody in the holler has much time for modern-day notions. Especially not twelve-year-old Livy Two, aspiring songwriter and self-appointed guardian of little sister Gentle, whose eyes "don't work so good yet." Even after a do ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 3rd 2005 by Viking Juvenile
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  377 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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If I told you that blue meant indigo,
if I told you that yellow meant gold,
if I told you that red meant crimson,
would you see the colors that I know?

This story was so soothing. I know that's a weird way to describe a story, but it's something I love. It was calming and comfortable, even when a lot of stuff was going down, it was a family-driven story with a musical theme and I loved it. It had been so long since I'd just sat down and read a whole book in a day, and this one was perfect for that
Victoria Minks
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars.

When I first started this book I was rather ho-hum about it, and it wasn't till I had gotten a few chapters into it that I actually started warming up to it. Around the middle of the book, I decided I liked it, but the ending left me a wee bit disappointed.

There were quite a lot of euphemisms that had to be marked out, and a little talk of faeries/witches etc that I personally didn't care for either. Another thing that bothered me was Livy Two's habit of praying to her deceased siste
Feb 05, 2008 added it
Recommends it for: middle graders & lovers of southern lit
Gentle’s Holler Kerry Madden

Livy Two and her 8 siblings live with Mama and Daddy in Gentle’s Holler in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The family lives a hardscrabble, yet gentle, existence. It’s gentle, because they enjoy all the tranquil riches of mountain living and the love of family. But hard, because Daddy doesn’t work a regular job. He is a musician with a song in his pocket and a plan to make it big one day. Since Livy Two writes lyrics also, she believes in her daddy’s dreams. After all
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
You can't feed a family of ten or eleven with just love and music, but they sure do make life more bearable.

In Kerry Madden's Maggie Valley Trilogy, Olivia "Livy Two" Weems narrates the ups and downs of her mountain family life. The first book in the trilogy is Gentle's Holler. Livy Two's Daddy is a songwriter and traveling salesman, waiting for that big banjo hit. Mama has two babies (Cyrus and Caroline) sleeping in the dresser drawer and one in the cradle (Appelonia). Emmett, Livy Two's elder
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to hellcat by: Kerry Madden
While her first novel, Offsides was very good in many ways, Kerry Madden's Gentle's Holler has more heart and more things to just be plain happy about than any novel I've read in awhile. The rhythm of the character's Southern speech and it's many particular turns of phrase is spot on and I know where to turn if I ever need a reminder of the South. Oddly enough, while the story is set in the mountains of Tennessee in the 1960s, the story did not feel old-fashioned... nor did it feel modern, it ju ...more
Lonna Pierce
Feb 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Kerry Madden writes a sweetly sad story of growing up impoverished in the "hollers" of the Great Smoky Mountains. Amid the strains of down-home banjo and folk guitar music, subsistence living is made bearable by a loving family. Livy Two Weems, age 12, narrates the bleak story that collapses under the weight of too many struggles. Daddy rarely has a paycheck, then has a car accident, Mama is pregnant with child #11, and sweet baby, Gentle, has more than a small problem with her eyesight. Madden' ...more
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read all three books in the series: Gentle's Holler, Louisiana's Song, and I just finished Jessie's Mountain (12/7/08).
The books were very well written. I was able to visit Maggie Valley and Ghost Town in the Sky during the summer of 2008, which is the setting of the stories. It's not far from Ashville, NC. Beautiful country! The stories tell about a family working together to earn a living and stay in their home. Very powerful. I highly recommend them! I thought they should be for sale i
Sarah Picchi
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
We read Kerry Madden's Gentle's Holler for my mother-daughter bookclub this summer. The book is about the Weems family, who are a very poor but artistically rich family who live in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. The main character Livy Two is enchanting. The family deals with a lot of heartache and yet they seem happy. Takes place in the 60s. Hard not to be nostalgic for that time. Kerry has a wonderful voice and is a great storyteller. My daughter has re-read this book about 5 times.
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical and full of Appalachian heart. The main character, Livy Two is Number One with me. The ending is a tad abrupt--but perhaps because there is a sequel (which I look forward to reading) There is much to enjoy for middle grade readers and older lovers of Southern fiction.
Stephanie A.
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well written and featuring a likable girl you desperately want to rise above her circumstances.
This is my daughter's favorite book!!!!!
Tim Cummings
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading in junior high schools across the nation. If you mash-up 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' with 'Coal Miner's Daughter', you get this heartfelt, heartwarming, heartbreaking tale of a prismatic and melodic Smoky Mountain family in the early 1960s. Madden brings every word to bursting life.
Henry Tennant
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When you read the first page you want to keep on reading.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Engaging but sad with a somewhat unresolved ending. Evidrntly there are 2 more books in the series. The themes seem more YA than juvenile fiction.
Scott Volz
Though it features a strong setting (Appalachian North Carolina), powerful themes of family, faith, and perseverance, and a very engaging narrator (twelve-year-old Livy Two), Gentle's Holler--while a book I'm sure many middle graders will enjoy--suffers from having too many plot obstacles. Granted, much of the novel's emotional power comes from the way its characters hold on to optimism, hope, and good humor amid a very difficult living situation--an unemployed musician father whose wife is cari ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is the story about a girl named Livy Two Weems who lives in the North Carolina mountains with her family - a sweet story about the love of family. The book includes much about learning to survive without a lot of money, supporting a father's dream of becoming a famous banjo player, taking care of younger siblings (there are eight children including Livy & one on the way), getting books at the lending library truck, grandmother relationships, helping a younger sister who cannot see, and ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Livy Two lives with her family in the Appalachian mountains during the early sixties. The Weems family is large and there's never a dull moment. Livy Two, an aspiring musician, is the caretaker of her little sister, Gentle. The story follows the ups and downs of growing up in a large family when times are tough. But when Livy Two finds out that Gentle is blind and Daddy is injured, the Weems family must find a way to stay strong together.
I found this book randomly at the library and I've loved i
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Weems family a mom a banjo playing daddy, Emmet the oldest boy, Livy Two, Lousis ,Beksie,Jitters, Caroline, Cryuse,Gentle, and last but not least Appolonia. There father is trying to compose sell and maybe earn a little money. You see there family doesn't have much to live on or live off of.Grandma Horace is a wealthy, but not so much of a nice person. Emmet want's to skip town and go live Ghost City.
That is all I will tell you.
I think yo should read this book if you are ready for a sad ye
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: juv
Even though the plot sounds a tad depressing, the story never feels like a downer. The writing is really lovely - a little colloquial, without ever going overboard, and the characters are realistic. I would have eaten this up with a spoon as a child - big family, a lifestyle unlike my own, and a main character who dreams of going places and seeing the world - but is still nervous about getting up on stage to sing. Calling a story "sweet" sounds so schmaltzy, but this one never gets sappy, and it ...more
Virginia Walter
Nov 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A poor family struggles to survive in their Tennessee mountain home in the 1960s. There isn't enough money for a telephone or a car, and the children -- too many of them, according to Grandma Horace -- are often hungry. There is love and laughter and music and books from the traveling library, but this doesn't pay the bills or keep 14-year-old Frank from running away to work in a nearby theme park or bring eyesight to toddler Gentle, born blind because her mother had German measles while she was ...more
Miss Amanda
gr 6-8 237pgs

1960s, Maggie Valley, N Carolina. 12 year old Livy Two Weems has big dreams. She wants to travel the world and then come home to a house all to herself and write songs. Space of her own is hard to find in family of 8 children and another on the way. Livy Two wants to believe that her father is right and then any day now, he's going to write hit song and the family's constant struggle to make ends will be a thing of the past.

Caught up in the daily drama of family life, the rest of th
Jeff Huie
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Set in the early 1960s in the hills and hollers around Maggie Valley, North Carolina, Gentle’s Holler follows the childhood of twelve-year-old Livy Two Weems. Toss in a mess of bickering siblings, an ornery grandma, and a dog named Uncle Hazard, and you’ve got a right smart chance for some serious adventures. I like the historical references and the old mountain setting. It’s a time and place where kids still say boyhowdy and dadgummed, and babies sleep in shirt drawers because all the cribs and ...more
Patrick Miller
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A great kickoff to a wonderful young adult series filled with touching moments and an impressive range of literary references worked into the text. This series is set in the real Maggie Valley, NC. I developed an online tourism guide for this series at teh Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative which includes an excerpt, photos, and tourism links related to the real area. Kerry was very helpful in designing the guide. Check it out here: http://southeasternliterarytourismini...
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was really amazing. It took me a while to get into it, but once I did, I was addicted. This book can be so sad and I almost caught myself crying a few times (but I couldn't because i was at school lol). I did not know until the middle of the book that it took place in the 60s. This family is struggling with money and trying to keep up with the times all while having a blind sister, 8 kids, and hardly any jobs for the parents. This book has a sequal or two and I'm dying to read it. I wo ...more
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a sweet story of self-discovery and resilience. At the start of the story, Livy Two Weems is twelve years old, second of eight children, daughter of poverty. In the course of the book, she tries to find her way in life and figure out how she fits into her world. Livy Two is innocent and wholesome and I love that she can discover herself without the sexuality that's so common in the coming of age stories. There's plenty of hardship, sadness, and tragedy, but it's tempered by love, happine ...more
May 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Gentle's Holler is charming. I particularly liked the realistic characters/each well rounded with positive and negative characteristics...each a very distinct personality. The setting in the 1960s in Appalachia is a plus for understanding nearby cultures. It did remind me a bit of Little House on the Prarie in terms of the close-knit family with their challenges, including the blind sibling. I was drawn in by the characters and will read the other books in the trilogy. This will be used in my su ...more
Dec 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-teen
This book made me want to go to the Mountain Dance and Folk Music Festival and hear Livy Two play her guitar and sing her songs. Livy Two is the 3rd of 9 children. Her father is a musician, convinced that he will sell one of his banjo songs to Nashville. In the meantime, the family has moved several times and are now settled in Maggie Valley in the Smokey Mountains, where they have a big garden and the lending library truck comes every couple weeks or so.
Teresa Grubbs
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read this for Battle of the Books, but really enjoyed it. Set in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, this story is about a young girl, Livy Two, who is part of a large and ever-growing family led by a dad who keeps promising to write a top-selling banjo hit and a long-suffering mother who does everything she can to provide for the family. I thought it ended rather abruptly, so I was glad to find out that there is a sequel.
Alma Almonte
The book was very heart warming. It is about a family that lives in the mountains. One of the daughters sings at a folk dance but on that night her father gets into a car accident and Olivia and her family think that their father dyed but it turns out that the father just went into a coma. The book was magnificent but near the end it's very emotional. I recommend this book for people who want a book that grabs the reader in and a book that has a lot of mixed emotions
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
A beautiful and touching story of a rural North Carolina family who, though they have little, are bound together by love for each other, which helps them to weather the problems and crises ahead. Livy Two and her sisters and brothers are drawn so vividly that I can't wait to read the sequel, Louisiana Sky. I hope Kerry Madden plans to write more about this family.
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Kerry Madden writes under both Kerry Madden and Kerry Madden-Lunsford. She has written plays, screenplays, journalism (Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Birmingham News, Salon, Southern Women's Review, Shenandoah, Carve Magazine, and Sierra Club Magazine), and published seven books including OFFSIDES, a New York Library Pick for 1997, and now just out as an ebook with FOREVERLAND PRESS.

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