Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Road to Bittersweet” as Want to Read:
The Road to Bittersweet
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Road to Bittersweet

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,267 ratings  ·  201 reviews
SOUTHEASTERN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION'S (SELA) 2018 Author of the Year in fiction
SIBA Trio 2018 Selection
SIBA OKRA PICK Winter 2018
First Pick for SOUTHERN LADY Book Club

Set in the Carolinas in the 1940s, The Road to Bittersweet is a beautifully written, evocative account of a young woman reckoning not just with the unforgiving landsca
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 26th 2017 by Kensington
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Road to Bittersweet, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Donna Everhart Yes, she is 14, then 15 by the end of the story.

The way I looked at this was strictly from the time period - 1940. When I was writing the story, I th…more
Yes, she is 14, then 15 by the end of the story.

The way I looked at this was strictly from the time period - 1940. When I was writing the story, I thought of Loretta Lynn, who married "Doo" at fifteen. Of course, in the end of this story, Wallis Ann isn't getting married, but the story does imply a future for her and Joe at some point - but that could be much later. Thank you for your question!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,267 ratings  ·  201 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Road to Bittersweet
Angela M
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it

You could call this a coming of age novel and I would agree, but it's not a typical coming of age story. You could say that the ending is a little too pat, maybe even a little too predictable and I could agree with that . For me though, the important thing about this story is that I found it to be an excellent work of historical fiction.

It's 1940 in North Carolina, and the dam of the Tuckasegee river has broken with the torrential rains. Fourteen year old Wallis Ann and her family, her mother a
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, kindle-version
4 southern fiction stars to The Road to Bittersweet

I enjoyed my time spent with Wallis Ann Stamper and her family. Set in the 1940s in both North and South Carolina, there was a flood in the Stampers’ small mountain community at the start of the book that left me riveted. Wallis Ann went on quite an adventure finding her way home.

Wallis Ann’s parents reminded me a bit of the Ingalls parents from Little House, through their patience and kindness towards their children. The family has lost every
RoseMary Achey
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Actual Image of the Destruction After the Flood of 1940 In Jackson County North Carolina

Donna Everharts new novel set in the mountains of Western North Carolina was pulled directly from the history pages. The Great Flood of 1940 roared through Jackson County and in The Road To Bitterweet we learn the fate of a proud and self-sufficient Appalachian family when their meager possessions are lost in the flood.

The Flood destroyed every bridge in the county crossing the Tuckasegee River

The novel's
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A picture of a casually sweet, demurely seated young girl in a crisp, white sundress adorns the cover, her legs crossed at her ankles, her feet bare and almost tucked into the grass beneath, delicately holding something between her hands which seems to be almost imperceptibly, the bare old wood porch lending an air of hardship to their humble home. Off to the side are the words: ”It takes courage to find your way…”

That certainly holds true in this story.

The Year is 1940; the
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A riveting piece of southern historical fiction! I love stories of Appalachia and the south in general. This is a story of hardship and survival through the eyes of Wallis Stamper. This is somewhat of a coming of age story as well. I loved the author's writing style which puts you in the setting and nailed the language of Appalachia.

Wallis Stamper and her family were caught in the flood of the Tuckasegee river near Cashiers, North Carolina in 1940 when a dam broke after torrential rains. The flo
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
First book started and completed in 2019


One of those books for me that started out real quiet like as I went along then slowly snuck into my heart bit by bit. I was cursing real life and work for having to leave this world and go be an adult.

I admired their resilience to keep going, even when times got real rough.

By the end, (especially with a couple twists that had me rethinking about a certain someone) I wanted to keep going on and see what happened with everyone down the line. The ending
Another beautiful story by Donna Everhart. The novel takes the reader through a family hardship, their emotions to process life and learn to see the beauty in all they have.
Deanne Patterson
A coming of age tender story of life in the Carolina's in the 1940's told through the eyes of Wallis Stamper. This southern historical fiction is an accurate description of Appalachian life and the way they spoke too. The hardships detailed here made me feel as though I was there experiencing the tragedies right along with this family. There is the mother,father,main character Wallis,her older mute sister,Laci and younger brother. Wallis is responsible for her sister, Laci the majority of time a ...more
Judy D Collins
Donna Everhart takes readers to Stampers Creek, 1940 North Carolina along the Tuckasegee River with the Stampers family. THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET —a gritty Southern tale of despair, family, and hope. A perfect and fitting title for this coming-of-age journey through life's ups and downs from childhood to womanhood.

"It takes courage to find your way."

In the Appalachian mountains, near Cashiers, NC, we meet Wallis Ann. Fourteen-years-old and wise beyond her years. She takes most of the burden c
Deborah Blanchard
"It takes courage to find your way" This is true throughout this book. This story takes place in the 1940's in the Appalachian Mountains. The Stampers live on the river and lead a simple life, until a hurricane destroys their home as the flood waters rise. They are forced to leave. This is their story as told by Wallis Ann, the middle child, age 14. I found this to be a true coming of age novel, filled with feeling and teaming with emotion. Wallis Ann is strong and determined, yet is but a teen ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading The Education of Dixie Dupree, I knew I'd be reading Donna Everhart's next novel, but I didn't expect to have the pleasure of reading her second book this year. (I'm an Outlander fan, so I'm accustomed to waiting four years-ish for a new novel from an author I love.) Needless to say, I was thrilled to see THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET listed on Edelweiss, and requested it immediately.

Set in 1940s Appalachia, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET is the story of the Stamper family—told from the perspec
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-fiction
" was like all we'd been doing was traveling down a road towards this bittersweet ending. Nothing could change what we'd been through." These are thoughts from Wallis Ann Stamper, the 14 year old main character in The Road to Bittersweet. And what a road she and her family had been down. Living in a rural area in the Appalachian mountains in 1940 with her parents, sister Lacy and baby brother, they lived a hard scrabble life but always had food on the table and love within the family as wel ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. RTC
Linda Zagon
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
IMG_1660My Review of “The Road to Bittersweet” by Donna Everhart

WOW! Kudos to Donna Earhart, Author of “The Road to Bittersweet” for such an incredible, heartwarming and emotional journey. It was really difficult for me to put “The Road to Bittersweet” down, because I just had to see what happened. I love the author’s description and sounds and scenery of nature, the land, the water, and both the beauty and devastation that can occur. It is just amazing the way Donna Earhart weaves her story and
Christine Moore
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
The Road to Bittersweet is about Wallis Ann Stamper and her family living in the mountains of North Carolina. A flood rolls through the town and they escape their home with the clothes on their backs. It is a beautifully written book about family, love, and hope. The descriptions in the book make you feel like you are part of the story. You can picture everything the author writes. I read this book in one sitting as I couldn't put it down. I loved Wallis and her family. Wallis is 14 and the stro ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
I first fell in love with Donna Everhart's writing when I read The Education of Dixie Dupree. She develops such beautifully written characters that you become so invested in their lives and journeys.

The Road to Bittersweet is a story of survival and resilience like none other, all told through the eyes of 14 year old Wallis Ann Stamper. Wallis Ann's family is awakened in the middle of the night to the rushing flood waters of the Tuckasegee River and must flee the only home they have known, only
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Stamper family live in the mountains of North Carolina. They don't have much, but they get by through hard work and their musical talents. Wallis Ann is tough, resilient and practical, caring for her older sister, Laci and her younger brother, Seph. Laci is mute, but is a musically gifted savant, expressing herself through her fiddle. She is constantly at Wallis Ann's side, giving her a rare moment for solitude. When the Tuckasegge River floods, they abandon their home, fleeing for safer gro ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it

I loved this novel because it broke my latest Restless Reader Syndrome (picking books up, putting them down after a few chapters, getting piles of stuff from the library and returning them all the next day, uninterested . . . you probably know the jive.) But I was captivated by "The Road to Bittersweet" right from the start and was engaged to the very end.

The Stampers are mountain people who lose everything in a catastrophic flood. It's 1940, the area is remote, and there's no one to ask for
Susan Peterson
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Road to Bittersweet captivated me from the very first line, a beautiful story written with beautiful, authentic prose evocative of the Appalachian Mountains where the story takes place; filled with images so clear that I could hear the rush of the water, I could feel the gnawing hunger in my own stomach, and mostly I could empathize with all of the emotions churning inside the characters....especially Wallis Ann. Wallis Ann and her family eked out a hardscrabble life, not knowing how rich th ...more
Eldonna Edwards
As a huge fan of Donna Everhart's debut, THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, I was thrilled to receive an ARC of THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET. I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories set in the south. Needless to say, I adored this one as well. The immersion into time and place, the hardship, the resilience, the loss/grief/acceptance, all of it. Her characters are so well-drawn that you feel as though you're watching them from a broke-down porch step somewhere deep in a Carolina holler as the story unfolds ...more
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2018
Wallis Ann just wants to be a normal fourteen-year-old. But she can't,she is the main caregiver for her mute very musically gifted older sister Laci. When Laci is around no one seems to even notice Wallis Ann. When a flood destroys their family home,they travel from place to place. Joining a Carnival where the family performs as a singing group. Horrific events plaque this family and especially Wallis Ann who you will fall in love with.Her story will break your heart. But it's not all harrowing. ...more
Laura Drake
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I didn't know how any book could stand up next to her first - but this did. A stalwart family, a hard time in America's history, an unforgettable character. I never go through the plot in a review - so many others do that. All I can say is, you HAVE to read this book!

She put you there; I feel like actually experienced the time period and the hardships.

Don't miss this wonderful tale.
Wallis Ann is fourteen years old as the book opens on her birthday: the middle child of a family of five living in the mountains and eking out an existence with a horse and mule, a small cabin and plenty of love. Her birthday begins like most other days - but heavy rains have everyone on edge as the creek and rivers are rising – and the fear of flooding is still apparent. Her family, the Stampers, have managed to gain some notoriety for their singing and performing, with her mute sister Laci acc ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the second novel by Donna Everhart I have read. I was completely impressed with "The Moonshiner's Daughter" (coming out January 1, 2020) and had this one in my healthy "to-be-read" pile. So I dove in. This one is about a teenage girl living near a river with her family in a cabin in the woods in the 1940s. The river floods, and this poor, but close-knit family, loses every little bit of food and possessions they have. Even their home is washed away, and they are lucky to be alive. At the ...more
Amy (TheSouthernGirlReads)
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-s
Thank you to Kensington Publishing for providing me with an ARC. The opinions provided are solely mine.

The Road to Bittersweet begins with Stamper family in Stampers Creek, North Carolina, fleeing their home due to a hurricane and flood waters destroying everything they have.

This story brings to light hardships, family loyalty, loss, rebuilding lives and coming of age.

Donna did an amazing job tying this story together in a fashion that kept me reading...way past my bedtime.

Y'all know I love
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to score an ARC of Donna Everhart’s The Road to Bittersweet. I absolutely loved her debut book, The Education of Dixie Dupree so I was very excited to get her latest book.

The Road to Bittersweet follows the Stamper family through trials and tribulations as a flood destroys their home in the foothills of South Carolina. Woven into this tale of tragedy and redemption is a lovely story between two sisters, Wallis and Laci. Younger Wallis is a sturdy sort of girl, very near the op
Bren McClain
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I heard the late writer William Price Fox tell us baby writers one time, "To tell a great story, you've got to get a voice going." He'd sit with his eyes closed and have us read aloud our stories to him. When someone had a "voice going," a smile would explode across his face. I'm telling you -- Fox would explode with a smile over Donna Everhart's"The Road to Bittersweet." Her narrator, fourteen-year-old Wallis Ann Stamper, is a matter-of-fact-take-care-of-business girl, whom you'll root for from ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
Wallis Ann is 14. She works hard helping her parents. Taking care of her baby brother. And taking care of her older sister Laci, who can not talk and they do not even know how much she understands. But she is a wonder with music.

All is well until the storm and everything changes. Life gets hard and to survive they leave. Wallis Ann is always the cheerful one, poor kid, she tries so hard to please everyone and never thinks about herself.

But she is 14 after all. And there will be first love, first
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fantastic book by my sweet friend, Donna Everhart​. Donna writes southern stories in a way that sets your bare feet in the soil, puts the biscuits - butter still dripping and warm - in your hand, and makes you long for Momma's cooking even as your heart breaks with loss and you long for better days. I read "Bittersweet" in a heartbeat, and I'm pretty sure I've checked about sixteen times to see if Donna's next book is out yet, LOL.
Josefina Bourne
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wallis Ann and her family story of hardship and struggles would keep me wondering what happens to them next.... This book is beautifully written, the detailed description on some scenes made me feel like I was right there with them. The end although a bit predictable still left me with a feeling that I wanted to continue the story and journey of Wallis Ann. This was an easy read and I enjoyed it very much 🙂
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
AMERICAN HISTORIC...: Farewell and Winners Announced! 1 7 Jul 20, 2018 05:23AM  
AMERICAN HISTORIC...: The Historic Flood in THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET 9 12 Jul 18, 2018 02:45AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • GodPretty in the Tobacco Field
  • The Sisters of Glass Ferry
  • The Last Road Home
  • The Last Suppers
  • This I Know
  • Forgiveness Road: A Powerful Novel of Compelling Historical Fiction
  • All the Forgivenesses
  • Liar's Bench
  • Finding Georgina
  • Call Your Daughter Home
  • Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café
  • Veda: A Novel
  • A Corner in Glory Land (Glory Land #1)
  • The Book of Lost Friends
  • Promise
  • Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
  • The Monk Downstairs
See similar books…
Donna Everhart is a USA Today bestselling author who writes stories of family hardship and troubled times in a bygone south. Her debut, THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE was an IndieNext Pick, Business Insider's Pick, Library Journal Top Pick, and long listed for the Southern Book Prize. Her second novel, THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. She is the Sou ...more

News & Interviews

They’re baaaaaaack! Young adult vampires, that is. Fifteen years after Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight took the world by storm, we’re seeing a brand...
34 likes · 13 comments
“There won’t ever any praise for what was expected, only when you done something startling.” 0 likes
More quotes…