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The Book of Polly

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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  5,099 ratings  ·  823 reviews
"Delightful. . . funny and poignant." --People

With a kick like the best hot sauce, this is the laugh-out-loud story of a girl determined to keep up with her aging, crazy-as-a-fox mother

"If you ever pined for a mother who would take a hunting falcon as her wingman to a parent-teacher conference, Polly is the gal for you. Delicious." --Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Ala
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Paperback, 322 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Penguin Books (first published March 14th 2017)
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*JEN the booknerd*
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Wendy Hunter Jenna Lamia.... also read "The Help" and "The Secret Life of Bees"
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,099 ratings  ·  823 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After the death of her husband, Polly in her late fifties finds herself pregnant. A last, unexpected gift from her late husband, and so Willow is born. In their small Texas town, Polly is much older than the other mothers, a fact that makes Polly fearful. At the age of ten, Willow begins to fear for her mother's health, and also becomes aware that Polly has some big secrets. Why for instance hasn't Polly ever gone back to her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana? So she begins to snoop and here the sto ...more
Angela M
I had a feeling it would be a little sentimental and It was. It was a quick, entertaining story with a mix of humor and seriousness. Polly Havens is bold, irreverent and overbearing, almost a caricature of the seemingly mean lady next door who really has a good heart. She is widowed in her late 50’s and discovers shortly after her husband dies that she is pregnant. The story is narrated by her daughter Willow, who is 10 years old when the story begins and moves us through the next five years. Wi ...more
Dem
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
I just love Southern novels with a sense of cham and humour and in my my mind I was sitting out on the back porch, sipping Ice tea while the fireflys kept me company on a balmy evening in June Reality was a wet Bank holiday Monday in June and the chance to sit outside would be luxury in Ireland, but through reading one can be any where any time and for this book my head was in the deep American South.

I have previously read Blue Asylum Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall by Kathy Hepinstall and thoroughly enjoyed it and was so
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Vanessa S.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since the day I first saw the cover of this book, I just knew I had to read it, and, boy, am I glad I did! The Book of Polly has a cast of well-developed, idiosyncratic characters that grew on me throughout the book.

We watch 10-year-old Willow Havens grow and mature alongside her mother, Polly Havens, who is a hoot of a Southern lady. Polly is a spitfire and shows her love for her daughter and the other characters/creatures in not-so-conventional ways, from showing up to Willow's school with a
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Brenda
Ten year old Willow Havens had never known her father as he had died while her mother was pregnant with her. And her brother Shelton and sister Lisa were much older than she was; living away and making their own lives. So it seemed like Willow was an only child, living with her mother who was quite a bit older than her friends’ mothers. Consequently, Willow’s obsession was that her mother, Polly, would die and leave her all alone – an orphan.

Polly was a woman who intimidated others – her manner
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Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

Willow has an older mother and never knew her father. Willow is paranoid that her mother is going to die soon because of her smoking, drinking, and her age. Polly became pregnant at 50 years of age.

Willow wants to know about her mother's life before she married her father who passed away before Willow was born. Willow also wants to know the secret her mother won't reveal about something that happened in Louisiana.

Willow makes it her mission to find out the secret as she continues worrying about
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Virginia
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What a lovely story! If you need something happy and warm, with good Southern quips, then look know further than this book.

Following the story of a young girl, Willow, born to an older mother, Polly, you will fall in love with Willow's determination to keep her mother living forever. Her antics are heartwarming and endearing. Polly is an incredible woman who embodies what we love from those "fiesty Southern belles." She also drops some great one-liners that will stick with you later. With a col
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Aura
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an example of southern fiction at its best. Polly is a 50 something year old who loses her husband at the same time she finds out she is pregnant. Willow, her daughter, is a wonderful character who tells tall tales but she has her reasons. This is an excellent feel-good book that had me laughing and crying throughout.
Heather
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every so often I come across a book with such wonderful characters that I just don’t want the book to end. This was one of those books. I finished it this morning and have thought about it on and off all day and the more I think about it, the more I liked it.

Polly was 58 years old when her husband died and a few days after his funeral she found out she was pregnant with Willow. Against the advice of her Doctors, she goes through with the pregnancy. The story opens when Willow is 10 years old an
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Angie Dokos
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my goodness! Polly reminds me of my aunts, which keep me cracked up. I laughed so hard during this book. I cried some too, but that isn't the point. The story was well written. I loved the "voices" of Polly and Willow. I love how I could picture everything in my head as if it were playing on a screen. I loved the humor. I know some may not, but I sure did. This book had it all. It was very touching, and hilarious. I loved all the characters and the plot. It was just great.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fiction
In "The Book of Polly," Willow is a young teenager who is dying to put together the mysteries of her mother's past before she loses her mother, which she constantly fears. Polly had Willow when she was in her late fifties and became a widow soon after. Since her other two kids are grown and out of the house, it is just Polly and Willow. Can Willow figure out Polly's secrets before its too late?

Polly is the kind of character that you remember long after you close a book. She reminds me a lot of s
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Susan
May 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: qpbc, 2017
I have no idea why this got such good reviews. I don't think I was the target demographic?

Anything I say is going to come off as, I suppose, snooty or snobby or not great. It felt simplistic and all of the characters were one-dimensional.
RoseMary Achey
This fun and witty southern story has a terrific ending. A classic mother daughter coming of age tale with a bit of mystery.
Hannah
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Willow is one of three children belonging to the ever entertaining, southern gem, Polly. Willow was born in her mother's late fifties, her older brother and sister grown and out of the house. Willow's father died before she was born and with the older siblings gone, she only has Polly. As Polly grows older, Willow begins to worry obsessively about her mother's death along with her past secrets. Polly has avoided her past like the plague and has kept most of it a secret. She always shuts down any ...more
Margaret Selin
I really don't know how I feel about this book and my indecision is so strong I can't even give a rating. Give me a while and maybe I'll have an idea how many stars to give but right now I feel conflicted.

At first I thought I would like the depiction of church, but it ended up leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth. I'll admit that there are LOTS of people out there who pervert the message of the Bible and spread a message of condemnation rather than the true Gospel of forgiveness it preaches
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MissSusie
I loved this book…I loved all the characters and wish the book hadn’t ended!

I honestly fell in love with Polly and her daughter Willow these two had me laughing and crying both are such fantastic characters and I do mean characters. When we first meet Polly she has a falcon on her shoulder during a school meeting, I loved the during this meeting there is a line that Willow says,
“I was in fact a liar, I had told some lies and even worse some truths about my mother to my classmates, in my defense
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Nancy
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Narative Fiction Lovers
Recommended to Nancy by: Diane S ☔
Shelves: favorites
Five Stars! I've gotten better about giving out stars; used to give 5 if I liked the book and 1 (or none) if I did not. Nothing in-between, just ya or nay. Realized that wasn't fair to the authors so for the last few years I've reserved 5-Stars for only books I LOVED. "The Book of Polly" is one of those rare books. Absolutely, positively loved this book. Thanks to another Goodreads reviewer for guiding me to it; without them I would not have picked it up until it became the sensation I believe i ...more
Marika
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Meet Polly. Polly is a southern woman who doesn’t suffer fools lightly, quarrels with her neighbors and might or might not like her margaritas before 5 p.m. Polly was done raising kids, that is until she became pregnant at 58. A month after her husband’s funeral. The novel is told through the voice of Willow, Polly’s 10 year old daughter, who is obsessed with her mother’s death, yet continues to spar with her. What could’ve been a dark book is instead, a laugh out loud read as readers identify w ...more
Allie
Five glorious stars!

This book. I loved it! I didn't want it to end.

Let's start with the cover. She has a falcon on her shoulder, people! And the story around that is hilarious. There was so much hilarity in this book. I laughed so much. And even though I usually steer clear of books with all the "feels", this one had a big range of feels, and I absolutely adored it. Just good fun.

As much as southern accents annoy the hell out of me (I had to stop watching True Blood because of that!), this sou
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Kristen Cook - A Book Ninja
If I could give this book 500 stars I would. I really enjoyed this audiobook more than I can say. I love Polly & Willow. I wish I had their wit. I would say my only complaint is that it felt like the book wrapped up really fast.
Megan C.
This was the most recent pick for my IRL book club and it was such a fun book, both to read and to discuss. I adored the character of Polly, and after finding out the author loosely based this character on her mother, (also Polly), I loved it even more. If you love quirky characters and Southern fiction, this is a must-read. It's hilarious, but also has some incredibly poignant moments that balance out the writing and give the story some real depth.
Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*
Willow is a young daughter of an older mother (58 at the time of the baby's birth....poor thing), so she's born into a family that has 'moved on'. Her father had died before her birth and her siblings had all grown and moved away. She's haunted about the time she missed, and she has many questions about it.... questions her mom refuses to answer.

I enjoyed this book until it took a mega-religious turn, which isn't for me. It snuck up on it's religious message until near the end.....it had some r
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Lori
I needed a light diversion rooted in the south. This is more of a coming-of-age story for a young girl with a quirky older mother. Light but not "fluffy" and full of heart. Excellently narrated by the talented Jenna Lamia.
Amy
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love quirky stories that are big on humor and The Book of Polly was everything a good read should be. Beautifully developed characters, loads of hilarity, and Hepinstall’s choice of words and phrasing make these characters, truly, come to life.

Polly has an unexpected surprise in her late fifties and gives birth to her daughter, Willow. Polly is not like any mother that Willow knows at school and the reader experiences her pride and shame at just how little she does fit in. One of Willow’s bi
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Glenda
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book at the library without knowing much about it simply because the cover was so interesting. The narrator is 10 year old Willow Haven. She was born when her mother Polly was 58 years old and shortly after her father passed away. Polly is a cantankerous, Southern woman who lives to shoot varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors and she sticks out like a sore thumb compared to other mothers. Because of Polly's age, Willow is terrified with the thought of her mother d ...more
Brian
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Willow Havens does not have the life of a typical teenager. Her mother, Polly had her when she was in her late 50's, and when Willow is just 11, her mom is approaching 70. Polly is a character unlike almost any other character that I have encountered in literature. She's crass, she's weird, she's sassy and she's also extremely funny. Polly has two other adult children, the extremely religious Lisa, and the rebellious and very drunk Shel. But when Polly gets the news that "The Bear" (cancer) has ...more
Amy
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this novel! It made me laugh, cry, ponder life, and find insight. The characters are vibrant, humorous, real, and endearing. Hepinstall draws you into their lives whether you can relate to them or not. At times, the narration was so authentic and beautiful and rang so true that I wished I had written it myself: it so perfectly captured the moment, its meaning, and context within life. The novel tells the story of Polly, who has her third child Willow, late in life about eight ...more
Carol
I absolutely loved this book! The Book of Polly is filled to the brim with cantankerous moments that had me erupting into fits of laughter. I was literally wiping away tears. The setting takes place in a small town outside of Houston, Texas, and being a Houstonian myself, this book really hit home for me. If only I was her next door neighbor.

I don't know whether to buy Polly a drink or hug her neck! She is an unforgettable character! I adore the storytelling of Polly through the eyes of her you
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Terris
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book about a young girl, Willow, who is so afraid that her mother, Polly, is going to die. It doesn't help that the Polly was 58 years old when Willow was born (she only finds out that she is pregnant a short time after her husband's funeral (!), so Willow never knows her father) and the story opens when Willow is about 10 years old. Also, Polly is quite a character (very entertaining!) and has a secret in her past that she won't tell Willow (which drives Willow crazy!). Wh ...more
Sara
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to The Book of Polly on Audible & the narrator Jenna Lamia was fabulous!! Her slow southern drawl & character commitment was perfection.

Willow, Polly & Phoenix stole my heart. I loved their authenticity & This is a heartwarming story that will stay w/ me for some time.
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Kathy Hepinstall grew up in Spring, Texas, near the Louisiana border. Her most recent book is The Book of Polly. Polly is based, in part, on Kathy’s own mother, who has as wicked a tongue as her fictional counterpart. Kathy now lives in Portland, Oregon.
“Easy for you to say," Polly said. "You've lived here all your life and stayed under the radar. No one points at you."
"Sometimes small children point at my butt," Aunt Rhea said. "But that's just on account of all the fried chicken.”
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“You should have tried the eggplant parmesan she tried to hoist on me at the church bake sale. No wonder her children turned to Satan. He probably showed up as an angel of light and promised them a decent meal.” 4 likes
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