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The Moonshiner's Daughter

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Publisher's Weekly STARRED REVIEW
Southern Literary Review January 2020 Book of the Month
Goodreads Most Popular Releases for December 2019
MaryJane'sFarm Book Club Pick
SheReads Most Anticipated Women's Fiction 2020
Southern Lady Book Club Pick for February

Set in North Carolina in 1960 and brimming with authenticity and grit, The Moonshiner's Daughter evokes the singular life of sixteen-year-old Jessie Sasser, a young woman determined to escape her family's past . . .

Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser's daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she's concerned, moonshine caused her mother's death a dozen years ago.

Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth--one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school's gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the "monster" inside Jessie.

Resenting her father's insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie's loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths--and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.

356 pages, Paperback

First published December 31, 2019

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About the author

Donna Everhart

6 books1,276 followers
Donna Everhart is the USA Today bestselling author of Southern fiction with authenticity and grit, including the Southeastern Library Association Award-winning The Road to Bittersweet and The Moonshiner’s Daughter.

Her fifth novel, The Saints of Swallow Hill, is out now.

Born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, she now lives with her husband in a small town in the Sandhills region, and is most likely working on her next novel.

She is a member of the Weymouth Center, North Carolina Writers’ Network, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

Readers can also visit her at www.donnaeverhart.com.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 507 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M (On a little break).
1,270 reviews2,217 followers
January 19, 2020
At the beginning of the story, there is a flashback to a startling, dramatic event, one that haunts sixteen year old Jessie Sasser, a troubled girl who doesn’t want to be known as a moonshiner’s daughter. She’s frustrated wanting to know more about her mother, looking for remanants, signs, maybe finger prints on a wall perhaps, with little recollection of her mother since she was just four when the accident happened. She doesn’t fit in at school or at home, not wanting to be part of the family moonshine business not wanting to be known as a “moonshiner’s daughter “ with a father who in his own grief and need to provide for his son and daughter, doesn’t seem to see her. This is compounded by Jessie’s eating disorder and there are moments that are difficult to read as she endures this alone, except for a very kind and aware school nurse who recognizes Jessie’s issue. She doesn’t want to be a moonshiner’s daughter, yet later in the story, as she sits in her class room, “I gave a sky peep around the room, wondering what they would think of they knew I hauled moonshine, knew how to do a bootleg U-turn, could tell by the bead what was good liquor and bad.”

Coming of age in the south is the focus of the three novels that I have read by a Donna Everhart. I can’t say this one is my favorite and for at least the first half I would have rated it 3.5 stars, but the second half delivered, kept me captivated. The portrayal of this part of North Carolina in 1960, with hidden stills that needed tending, the violence of the competitors, provided a strong sense of the place, of the culture, the dangers, the violence associated with moonshining and an ending that I was not expecting.

I read received an advanced copy of this book from Kensington through NetGalley. I’m late in reading and reviewing this, but glad I finally got to it.
Profile Image for Paige.
152 reviews283 followers
September 29, 2019
North Carolina, 1959-61: Jessie Sasser, a teen girl, struggles to feel accepted by her family who runs an illicit moonshining business. For a number of reasons, young Jessie refuses to support her family's occupation moonshining. Unpopular, self-conscious, and motherless, she feels shame about her family’s reputation for moonshining and worthlessness about herself. But when harm comes her family’s way, Jessie feels she must decide between her family and her integrity. Will her family's legacy stand in the way of survival?

“I didn’t want to be known as the moonshiner’s daughter.”

A big topic explored in this novel is eating disorders. Very early on, Jessie’s eating disorder is introduced, and she struggles with her self-value and appearance throughout the novel.

“Out the windows to my left were my classmates standing or sitting under a perfect blue sky, a buttery sun shining warm on their flawless world. I saw myself in their midst, a mar on their perfection, a weed in their manicured garden.”

The names of characters are simply amazing. And, in my opinion the name “Sasser” is one of the most epic last names for a Southern family. The southern language was remarkable, and the setting and environment set by the author was outstanding. The stark reality of Jessie’s situation with her family feels tangible.

Historically, this novel was extremely well-researched. After searching the internet because of this novel, I came to realize the area of the setting, Wilkes County, NC, was a huge moonshining contributor in the south during the 50's and 60's. The cars to transport the juice, the moonshining process, and the rivalry seem to be developed from genuine past reports or other remnants of history. As the author mentions in the end, moonshining was prevalent in Wilkes County, NC because voters continued to delay the license of regulated Alcohol Beverage Control stores.

The first few chapters started off strong, but then it started to get slow here and there. I experienced a few static moments with the pacing in the first half of the story-line. On the other hand, I can see the slow-moving pace in the beginning could benefit the solid foundation set for characters and the environment they live in. I really felt like I knew Jessie and her family. The last half, of course, was my favorite and everything was woven together beautifully. The very ending, the epilogue, truly made my heart sink.

There is no romance in this novel. Triggers in this novel include self-harm through eating disorders and abuse to a child.

I really liked this story and recommend it to lovers of Southern historical fiction. This would make for a great group or book club read. There is also a "Reading Group Guide" with questions included in the back. 4.5 stars

I won an advanced print copy of this via Free Book Friday on Donna Everhart's blog. Thank you! Click here to watch the book trailer for The Moonshiner's Daughter.

More on these topics:
Willie Clay Call- The Uncatchable Moonshiner
Why moonshine?
Moonshiner History
Women's Health- Eating Disorders

Newspaper clip from 1938, Wilkes County NC Moonshine Capital:

A 1950’s Oldsmobile Rocket 88- Similar to Daddy Sasser’s car he used to run his shine:

A 1951 moonshine bust in Johnston County, NC. Image from the State Archives.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews11.8k followers
January 8, 2020
Provocative, emotional, & compelling!

THE MOONSHINER’S DAUGHTER by DONNA EVERHART is an engaging, fascinating, gritty, heart-wrenching, and soul-stirring southern historical fiction novel that was such a fabulous, compassionate, and heartfelt story. I was immediately sucked into the storyline and it gripped me right until the very end.

I absolutely love these types of gritty southern fiction tales and absolutely loved that this story was centered around moonshining. I’ve always had this fascination for the history of the making and running of moonshine and this definitely fulfilled my curiosity. Along with the moonshining there is some tough themes discussed here within this novel. Very early on we are privy to our main character here, Jessie having an eating disorder. We are given a firsthand look into how she struggles with her appearance and how that ultimately affects her self-esteem. DONNA EVERHART explores and delivers this subject-matter with tender loving care. Jessie and her journey totally consumed my thoughts and my heart, her story definitely resonated with me deeply on a personal level.

DONNA EVERHART delivers a steadily-paced, well-researched, and a beautifully written story here that remarkably captures the essence, time, and place perfectly. I felt like I was experiencing everything in this novel right along with these believable and exceptionally well-drawn characters. This novel deeply affected and touched my heart. It is one that I soon won’t forget.

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, lovely, vintage, and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. I absolutely love this cover and it definitely enticed me in reading this book.
Title: An intriguing, relevant, effective, and fitting representation to storyline. I absolutely love this title!
Writing/Prose: Easy to read, eloquent, entertaining, vivid, palpable, engaging and captivating.
Plot: Gritty, stirring, heart-felt, memorable, atmospheric, plausible, interesting, steadily-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: A bittersweet, heart-felt, moving, and satisfying ending.
Overall: 4.5 Stars! I have such a deep affection for this story and highly recommend it!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Donna Everhart and Kensington Books for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.

This review can also be seen at Two Sisters Lost in a Coulee Reading book blog:
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,051 reviews30k followers
January 30, 2020
5 North Carolina stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Ok, so I happen to LOVE Donna Everhart. We are talking BIG love. She’s a North Carolina author who features North Carolina settings, and her books are filled with warmth and heart. Not only that, while I have loved every book, they only get better and better.

Set in Wilkes County, North Carolina, The Moonshiner’s Daughter is Jessie Sasser’s coming-of-age. Her family has lived in the Brushy Mountains for generations making moonshine.

Jessie, however, is no fan of moonshine. It killed her mother.

Jessie is eager to know the truth of what happened to her mom, but no one is talking about it, especially not her dad. And Jessie has pain and hurt deep inside that causes her to seek comfort from food.

Moonshining was dangerous business, and I recently learned from my dad that a family member of mine or two took part. I think this connection enthralled me with the book even more.

As with all her books, Everhart lays out the time and place with precision. I am quite familiar with Wilkes County. It’s a beautiful place I drive through on the way to the Blue Ridge mountains.

Jessie is a charmer. How she dealt with all her feelings was written in a way so relatable, especially for losing her mom at such a young age. The Moonshiner’s Daughter is a deeply emotional story as a result. I’ve mentioned before my best friend lost her mother when we were teens. Everhart captures that enduring pain in a way that viscerally took me back.

I will never tire of Donna Everhart’s stories. She brings the feelings, the strong characterization, precise settings, and stories that deeply move me every single time. I hope she has a neverending amount of stories to tell us because I’ll be here waiting to read them.

I received a complimentary copy.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
1,995 reviews15.7k followers
January 30, 2020
Donna Everhart has written a gritty and compelling southern fiction novel. Her clever and descriptive writing really brought this time and place to life. 1960 North Carolina Wilkes County an area known for its moonshine. 16-year-old Jesse has never felt as though she belongs. She does not fit in with her family, because she blames moonshine for the death of her mother. She also does not fit in with her classmates because she fears they see her as the moonshiner’s daughter. Jesse struggles with her self worth and battles with an eating disorder. This book got off to a bit of a slow start, but I think that was imperative because it really set the foundation for these characters. I felt so much for Jessie, although I didn’t always understand why she was so against moonshine. I mean I do understand it was illegal, I guess I just don’t really understand all the implications involved. I did some googling while reading this book and it seems as though this was the prime moonshine area of the country from about 19 20–19 60. I always love reading southern fiction, because the area seem so rich in history, history I really have very little knowledge of. So while the first half of this book was a bit slow, the second half was completely enthralling. The direction the story took completely surprise me, but I was really invested in the story and thrilled with the ending.

This book in emojis. ⛰ 💰 🥃 🚗

*** Big thank you to Kensington for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

For more of my reviews and bookish thoughts please visit my blog
Profile Image for Nadia.
263 reviews175 followers
December 15, 2019
It's 1960 and Jesse Sasser is a 16 year old teenager who doesn't fit in. Jesse's family has been running a moonshine business in the Brushy Mountains in North Carolina for years. When Jesse was 4, she witnessed an accident where her Mom was burnt alive after one of the moonshine stills exploded. And that's one of the reasons why Jesse doesn't approve of her family's illegal activities and is thinking of reporting her father and brother to the Revenue.

I've read Donna Everhart's novel The Forgiving Kind earlier this year and absolutely loved it. Everhart is an exceptional writer and in her latest novel she depicts an authentic picture of the life in North Caroline in the 60s at the time when the Wilkes County was known as the Moonshine Capital of the World. I had no idea how popular bootleg liquor was at the time and enjoyed discovering this bit of US history.

What I struggled with was the character of Jesse and the lack of her character development. Jesse suffers from an eating disorder, but it is not clear when this started and what the main trigger for her bulimia is. Her body size is never discussed, only that she is always weraing ill-fitting clothes. Having no friends, she is also an outcast at school but again, it is not explained why that is. Overall, an interesting HF book which the fans of Donna Everhart will love, no doubt.   

Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Profile Image for Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader.
1,036 reviews120 followers
January 5, 2020
Everhart's fourth book blew me away. She is a very talented author. Living in NC this made this book even more fun to read. Everhart has done her research and this book was such a fantastic read.
If you have never read a book by Everhart change that soon. She is an author to watch out for. New York Times is on her radar.
I gave this book 4 stars and recommend it.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
Profile Image for Tammy(PeaceLoveBooks).
524 reviews197 followers
December 22, 2019
Coming of age + southern fiction = a new Donna Everhart book! I have read Donna Everhart's previous book and was thrilled to read The Moonshiner's Daughter. Jessie Sasser is the daughter of a moonshiner and witnessed her mother's death at the age of four. She is now 16 and dealing with a serious eating disorder, unpopularity and the fact that she wants more out of life than running 'shine. Donna Everhart is an auto-read author for me! The Moonshiner's Daughter would be a great book club pick!
Profile Image for Kathryn in FL.
716 reviews
April 7, 2020
Donna Everhart writes a terrific southern novel. Moonshiner's Daughter takes place in the mountains of N. Carolina in the late 1950's, where moonshine is quite popular in the dry county. Jessie's family have been manufacturers of a popular, quality brand for several generations. They run their shine all over the county and they are harassed by the maker's an inferior brand, who want to have a monopoly in the area and will do just about anything to succeed. Jessie's father, Easton takes the high road in the story. However, 16 yr. old, Jessie doesn't see things that way and she is blinded by her own agenda.

Everhart weaves a story of a stormy family dynamic, where several people are in discord with Easton's leadership. Jessie becomes laser focused on discovering more details about her mother's (Lydia) tragic death, which she witnessed and only partly remembers at age four. Desperate to uncover details, she devises several clever tactics to learn what happened to Lydia, that caused her death. In the midst of her angst, she alienates those closest to her, endangers her family and suffers from an eating disorder. Men don't let that scare you off from reading a great story that will appeal to you.

Everhart brings this story to a close in an amazing way. There are plenty of twists and turns and a lot of action to boot. There is an insightful examination of family dynamics that wasn't overdone. Forgiveness is incorporated but not in a preachy way. I particularly liked how Jessie's soul searching causes her to gain perspective on her pain and the harm she has caused as she let grief dominate her actions.

I plan to read more books by Donna Everhart. She has been given awards for her writing for good reason!

Recommend for men and women reader's, who enjoy drama with plenty of action and deeper wisdom.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
1,945 reviews299 followers
January 14, 2020
Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart

This is an amazing story set in North Carolina 1960, where a young woman is navigating the loss of her mother, and torn between the morality of her family’s legacy and the money they earn that puts food on their table. When she was only four years old, Jessie Sasser witnessed the death of her mother, burning alive from what she understands to be caused by their family’s Moonshine business. Her father refuses to talk about it.

Her father is convinced that moonshining runs in their blood as they are well known in those parts to having the best moonshine. Jessie would not have anything to do with the money they earn - refusing to eat or even buying much needed clothes! Determined to destroy the stills, her plans backfire when old rivalry escalates.

This is the first book I have read from Donna Everhart and what a great experience it was to read her amazing and unique characters full of grit, passion and strength.

The writing is solid and the plot kept my interest and fingers turning those pages. It was an entertaining read for me that I really enjoyed!
Profile Image for Kate Vocke (bookapotamus).
553 reviews113 followers
February 6, 2020
Have you ever tried Moonshine?

I have. I will never again. Imagine swallowing corn flavored gasoline while it's on fire. And it stays on fire. For hours after you swallow it.

What if ‘Shining' was your family legacy? It feeds your family and pays the bills. But what if it also is what killed your mother.

For 16 year old Jessie - she despises everything about the bootlegging her father does and although her family has been doing it for generations, she's determined to be no part of it. Even if that means destroying everything.

As Jessie seeks to do just that - she starts a chain of events that threatens danger to not only her, but her entire family. As old and dangerous family rivalries begin to emerge, she struggles to find her place, suppress her own inner demons, and questions everything she thought she knew about her family.

I adored Jessie and her steadfast strength despite her heartbreaking insecurities. And I was gripped by this fascinating look into the illegal enterprise of moonshining. It's a fast paced story that I didn't want to end, and although the final pages came as such an unexpected surprise - I still enjoyed every minute.

I fell in love with Donna Everharts' storytelling long ago, and The Moonshiner's Daughter is no exception to her gift of making readers connect with characters, fall in love with the South, and get lost in stories that seem almost too wild to be true.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,080 reviews88 followers
January 13, 2020
Donna Everhart has such a gift for giving voice to her characters. This about a teenage girl trying to find her place in the world.
1960s. Sixteen years old Jessie Sasser's family has been making and running moonshine in the hills of North Carolina for generations. Having witnessed her mother's death at the tender age of four, Jessie wants no part in the family business, much to the consternation of her father, uncle and younger brother. No one will talk to Jessie about her mother, leaving her with an emptiness she strives to fill with binge eating and purging. Jessie has just one school friend, and is ignored or bullied by the other students. It is the gruff school nurse who recognizes Jessie's struggles and tries with compassion and care to help her.
Resentful over the stigma of her family's heritage, Jessie makes some fateful choices with harsh consequences. As she tries to right her wrongs, things escalate and people are hurt. But as she learns more about her mother and grows in maturity, she does all she can to right her wrongs, and find a place to belong.
Jessie was flawed, troubled and stubborn, but I wanted to wrap her in my arms and comfort her, along with her younger brother. Well researched and beautifully written, a fabulous coming of age story.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,576 reviews72 followers
December 28, 2019
This was my 250th book for 2019... This was written with such grace... I fell in love with Jessie...would highly recommend this one! Thanks for giving me a chance to read, thank you for the giveaway!
Profile Image for Taury.
431 reviews59 followers
October 2, 2021
This book has many different family dynamics. All of them equal toxic, dysfunction that often ends in tragedy in many different ways. Death, bulimia, bootlegging, arson, and abuse to name a few. Slow in the beginning, picked up quickly
Profile Image for Annie.
297 reviews49 followers
February 19, 2020
Although this is my first novel by Everhart, she has been on my radar for a long time and will definitely be a new favorite. At first, I was feeling so depressed reading this that I didn't know if I would like it. Her writing is so good that I could really feel for the main character and her outcast status at school, as well as her feeling that she was in a family that she couldn't really relate to because of their family business and how it had related to her mother's death. This is definitely a gritty novel with plenty of awful people and terrible things that happen, but there is also hope and love. With novels like this, I've noticed that if there is at least one character that makes the hard times bearable and even hopeful, it makes for a much better story. In this one, there is a elderly school nurse by the name of Mrs. Brewer who is so wonderful that even though she is fictional she is inspiring. I hope we all have or have had a Mrs. Brewer in our lives and strive to be her at times too.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
724 reviews56 followers
December 30, 2019
Jessie Sasser hates what her father does. She hates that their name is associated with moonshine. She hates it all because it’s what killed her mother.

Jessie is determined to stop it all. The late night runs, the stills, the moonshine making. She just wants it to all go away and have her father, her brother, and herself live a normal life. First, she must determine how to stop her father from making the moonshine and make sure the Murry family falls to blame. The rivals of their family.

The Moonshiner’s Daughter was an excellent read! I couldn’t put it down! It is a revamped spin on the Hatfield and McCoy rivalry and held my attention the entire time.

Running through the woods, dodging rogue neighbors, sipping shine, and avoiding the revenuers, this book will give you a wild ride in the backwoods with the Sasser family. I highly recommend this one!

TW: Eating Disorder, Alcohol Abuse, Murder, Loss of a Parent.
Profile Image for Carla.
5,710 reviews122 followers
January 30, 2020
My husband and I used to watch a television show on the History Channel about modern day moonshiners, so when I saw this book, it immediately intrigued me. It is told from the POV of teenager, Jessie Sasser. When she was four, her mother was burned to death in a moonshine accident and she wants no part of the family business. Unfortunately circumstances change and she is pulled in, whether she wants to or not.

I loved this story. It is a southern historical fiction story, based on things that really would have happened. Family feuds, revenuers, hill people, poverty, addiction, mental health, medical situations and more are all part of this story. Jessie, our main character struggles with so many things. She has an eating disorder and struggles with her appearance and how that ultimately affects her self-esteem. With no mother to help her deal with these issues, she is unable to move on. She also refuses to take any money that her father earns from moonshining, so is wearing clothes that are several sized to small which adds to her distorted view of herself. My heart broke for Jessie throughout the whole story. Then there is her brother. He suffers physical difficulties directly as a result of the family feud with other moonshiners, but he still supports the family business and he and Jessie often fight about it. Jessie's relationship with her father is also strained which causes even more emotional situations. As you can see, the characters in this story were so well developed that I couldn't help but become emotionally involved with this family. As I have come to expect from Donna Everhart, this was a well researched, plotted and written story. It was heart-wrenching at times and hopeful at others. It was gritty, hard to read at times, yet I couldn't stop reading/listening to find out what was going to happen to Jessie and her family. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially ones that are set in the US.

I did a read/listen to this book. The narrator, Amy Melissa Bentley. did an amazing job with this book. She was the voice of Jessie. I felt like I was right there, experiencing the things that Jessie was experiencing. Her tone, expression and accents immersed me in this story. Well done! I will definitely listen to more books by this narrator. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Profile Image for Colleen.
1,444 reviews42 followers
February 7, 2020
I have read all three of Donna Everhart’s previous novels and have loved them all. The dark themes and slower pace don’t scare me away; rather, her characters are always so gritty and compelling, I can’t tear myself away from them.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find that with The Moonshiner’s Daughter.

Sixteen-year old Jessie Sasser has been raised by her father since the age of four, when her mother was killed in what Jessie assumes was an accident at one of her father’s moonshine stills. Jessie wants nothing to do with the moonshine business and plots to end it, but before that happens events take place that upset the balance of power within the county’s illegal moonshine business. Tensions mount between the two main bootlegging families and, on top of all this, Jessie is dealing with an eating disorder.

This sounds like what we have come to expect from Everhart: a coming-of-age story with a strong, resilient female lead struggling against the odds to make headway in her rural, Southern environment. However, for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on, I just didn’t feel a connection with Jessie and to be honest, I got a little tired of the whole moonshine business and bootlegging families’ battles. The character that I ended up enjoying the most was Mrs. Brewer, the school nurse who recognizes something is amiss with Jessie and tries to help her, but her scenes weren’t enough to sustain my interest. I actually skimmed here and there towards the end, something that I never thought I’d do while reading one of Everhart’s novels.

So, a bit disappointing for me, but this in no way makes me want to give up on Donna Everhart because I enjoyed her other books so much. For whatever reason, this one just didn’t click with me, but I have no doubt it’s just a blip and I still look forward to her next novel.

2.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Susan Peterson.
1,491 reviews244 followers
December 31, 2019
“I didn’t want to be known as the moonshiner’s daughter.” How does a young girl reconcile the hate she feels for her family’s business, which she blames for the death of her mother, with the knowledge that it’s the thing that puts food on their table, clothes on their backs—and is her family’s legacy? And what does she do when she realizes that she’s been wrong? Jessie Sasser is only 4 years old when she witnesses her mother’s death. Years later, when she is sixteen, she continues to abhor the family’s moonshine business, wanting no part of it. Filled with conflict, rage, shame, and grief, Jessie finds comfort in food, and food becomes the monster within. Jessie’s journey filled my own heart with fear and pain, her story resonating with me on a deep, personal level. Her actions and her beliefs belied her age—seemingly mature and street smart, having to fill the role left vacant by her mama when she was a small child. But her naïveté and impulsiveness, her incomprehension of events and emotions, would remind us that she was still a young girl. This is a heart-aching, soul-reaching novel that deals with eating disorders, moonshine, revenge, and loyalty with grittiness, compassion, and hard-truths. Author Donna Everhart excels in writing coming of age fiction featuring young girls facing unbelievable turmoil. She captures the essence of the south during the middle of the 20th century, immersing her readers in that time and place—her southern voice unequaled. With The Moonshiner’s Daughter, she has further cemented her place among the best of southern fiction writers.
Profile Image for Sue .
1,585 reviews95 followers
December 31, 2019
This novel is set in 1960 in N. Wilksboro, NC, the leading area for the making of moonshine in the south. The Sasser family was a major producer and distributor of moonshine during this time. The secrets for making good shine had been passed down from generation and the current family is made up of Easton, his daughter Jessie and son Merritt. Lydia, the wife and mother, had died in an accident while making moonshine twelve years earlier. This is Jessie's story.

Jessie really resonated with me as the main character. She is only 16 and at times is wise beyond her years while at other times you can see her lack of maturity. This is basically a coming of age novel and her pain and conflicting attitudes are evident throughout it. She is ashamed of the way her family lives and how they make their living.When she seeks solace in food, you just want to talk to her and tell her that life will get better, but she is so filled with shame and disgust at her life that she could only find relief in food. At first she felt like she could control her life with her overeating but soon learns that it is controlling her life.

Donna Everhart has proven once again that she is the Author of Southern Novels with Authenticity and Grit. She has brought her readers a wonderful, well researched novel full of likable (and a few unlikable) characters. This is a book that I would give more than 5 stars if I could. My prediction is that this will be THE winter book that everyone will be reading and discussing.

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read an review.
Profile Image for Dawnny.
Author 1 book19 followers
December 29, 2019
Set in 1960's North Carolina. Jessie Sasser's family has a long legacy of making and running moonshine on Shine Mountain. Seeing her mother die a horrific death when she was very young has Jessie dead set against the family business. It leaves her with many questions about her mother and a eating disorder. Running shine isn't easy, even with Sally Sue a rocket of a car. Mayhem,rivalry and the revenuers takes it's toll on this family leaving Jessie with a choice to make about her family legacy. I was hooked by the first page and an ending I never saw coming. Everhart is a gifted writer that captures the magic and the madness of the gritty south with hauntingly beautiful stories that linger. I cherish every one of her novels. This is the book all the book clubs will be talking about in 2020. I highly recommend.

Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley is
Profile Image for Betty.
454 reviews88 followers
January 13, 2020
Jessie Sasser was four years old when her Mama died, and she blames her Daddy, Easton, for it. The way she sees it, if her Daddy wasn't obsessed with making moonshine—just like all the Sassers that came before him—her Mama might still be alive. Instead, all she has left of her is the horrifying memory of seeing her engulfed in flames. Making moonshine is in her veins, or so Easton says, and her younger brother Merritt agrees... but they're both wrong. Jessie hates moonshine, and she's come up with a plan to destroy all of her Daddy's stills... not knowing her actions would lead to terrible consequences that would touch the lives of everyone closest to her.

"The only memory I have of Mama, she was on fire."

That is how you hook your readers from the very first line—and I was well and truly hooked from there on out.

Readers see everything through Jessie's eyes, learning about past and present events that happen in the story through her narration. It's clear right from the start that Jessie remains profoundly affected by the loss of her mother, the pain of that loss made worse by the horrific way she died. In the earliest parts of the story, Jessie asks questions about her mother repeatedly, but is stonewalled not only by Easton, but her Uncle Virgil, as well, who insists it isn't his place to tell her anything. Denied the answers she craves and forced to help make the moonshine she despises, Jessie turns to coping methods that are as obsessive as they are dangerous.

I was immediately drawn to Jessie's character. By the time I'd finished reading the first chapter, I felt fiercely protective of her. Every time something troubling was happening that either focused directly on Jessie, or affected her deeply, I'd have to pause for a moment before moving on. Each new tribulation she faced weighed heavily on my heart, and even when she rose to the occasion and faced head on, I couldn't help but wonder just how much that poor girl could take. Jessie was the quintessential dichotomy of strength and fragility—always pushing forward and doing what she must, even when she had to fight her own weaknesses or self-doubt in order to do it.

Betrayal lies at the heart of this story. It is a recurring theme that comes from both expected and unexpected sources, and drives a large portion of the story forward. Justice and injustice were accompanying motifs, brought into sharp focus when the Sasser family was harassed by rival bootleggers. An ordinary family would be able to turn to the law for help, but how can you get justice when you, yourself, are also guilty of criminal acts? What can you do, when you must deny yourself the help you would otherwise feel safe to seek?

I came away from this story feeling as if I'd walked alongside Jessie every step of the way. Whether she tending the stills, fighting adversities, or struggling with her inner demons, I was there. I felt her anger and frustration, her worries and fears. I could have wept with pride at her triumphs, because when they came, it meant the world to me in that moment. I don't think I'll ever forget Jessie Sasser, and part of that is because of the way the book ended. I wish I could discuss that ending in this review, but of course, I can't. I'll just say that it took my breath away, without explaining why.

Everhart has once again written a deeply moving story with richly imagined characters and situations that prove to be infinitely fascinating. Having read all her previous novels, I had high hopes for The Moonshiner's Daughter, and expected it to be good, but I was absolutely blown away by how outstanding it was. I highly recommend this book for fans of southern fiction and historical fiction. You do NOT want to miss out on this one, folks.

I received an advance reading copy of this book courtesy of Kensington via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Eldonna Edwards.
Author 4 books661 followers
January 28, 2020
Donna Everhart doesn't just write great Southern Fiction, she creates layered characters with real problems that make for compelling stories to keep you turning the pages. In The Moonshiner's Daughter, the author chooses an era and setting rich with history and filled with folks who exhibit grit and gumption in the face of adversity. From the conflicted teenage protagonist Jessie Sasser to the mean-spirited bully Willie Murry to the salty but protective school nurse, Mrs. Brewer, the reader is drawn into the motivations of each individual, even those we're rooting against.

Not having much knowledge of the bootleg liquor-making, I found myself fascinated by moonshining industry as well as the extreme lengths folks went to protect their well-hidden stills. It's tricky for authors to convincingly share the intricacies of a specialized subject without popping the narrative bubble, but the descriptions of the brewing process felt completely natural and unforced. Additionally, I was impressed by how Everhart brilliantly handled the complex emotions of a young girl whose traumatic childhood memories trigger an eating disorder that spins out of control. The Moonshiner's Daughter is a book that immerses you in the hollers of North Carolina while weaving a story that stays with you long after you turn the last page.
Profile Image for Romi.
1,025 reviews
January 22, 2020
Ok people...what what what do you see in this book? I read a bunch of her other books and enjoyed them. But my gosh....this book couldn't decide if it wanted to be about eating disorders, tragic family circumstances or heroics of the child. What was the point of this book? I just had to laugh (spoiler alert here) when the moral of the story was that she became one with her family when she finally decided to start bootlegging with them. I mean - WHAT???????????????????? Ahhhhhhhh....I hated this book. What the heck?
Profile Image for Robyn.
1,649 reviews115 followers
January 5, 2022
Donna Everhart

This is a coming-of-age story set in the late 50s and early 60s in rural North Carolina. Jessie is Sasser is the main character and has significant issues to overcome. She is the daughter of poverty on the outside of her house, but on the inside, there is more than enough to meet her family's needs. Their family has some secrets, mostly because the money that provides the "enough" comes from moonshine, still illegal. Jessie blames this enterprise for her mother's death which occurred when she was four years old. Her mother was burned to death when the still she was tending blew up, Jessie, her little brother, and her father were all there when it happened. This incident has turned her against the occupation and impacted her mental health. She has a major eating disorder and for most of the book, we believe that she has a weight problem of a different nature.

Her family is ill-equipped to deal with Jessie's needs and does little to get her any assistance, but a school nurse recognizes the issue and tries to help. Jessie takes some drastic actions to change her father's path of being a generational moonshiner and this causes a great deal of friction between Jess and the family. There is also the villain and rival shiners who have a vendetta to settle. But when there is no money, action has to be taken.

I almost DNF this book, the first half was just so slow that I was about to pull my hair out. I started skipping pages and didn't miss them at all. But about the time that I was going to pull the plug, the whole thing turned around. The second half of the book was much better. I believe it was the additional character of the nurse that rounded out the cast.

4 stars (had the first half been better it would have been 5)

Happy Reading!
Profile Image for Pam.
275 reviews4 followers
November 17, 2022
This was a hard one for me, due to the eating disorder, the sadness of the situation. I have to admit, toward the end I had a hard time putting it down, but the subject matter wasn't my thing. Normally, I like happy endings, but I didn't hate this one.
Profile Image for Robin.
454 reviews13 followers
September 16, 2019
I was fortunate to win this ARC, that said go buy it or borrow it as soon as available. I highly reccommend it. Was a great book.
Set in North Carolina, early 60' s 16 y.o. Jessie Sasser is the main character. She grows up in a moonshine family. Her mother dies in a fire when she is 4 and her brother is two. Her memories of that day color her preception of the family business. Her father refuses to speak about her mama and what happened that day. As the story goes on and Jessie experiences more of life ,learning more of the past her legacy and shiner blood comes thru.
January 22, 2020
Living in Johnston County, North Carolina, or as it's known, JoCo,home of where many a moonshine gets made, I couldn't wait to dive into this book. This book is the second one I've read by Everhart, and her talent is as strong here as in the other one. She hooked me from page 1 and took me through a whirlwind of emotions and held me until the last page was reached. 

Jessie Sasser witnessed a horrific tragedy at a very young age. That tragedy was a result of her family's livelihood, and it became the reasoning for her hate of the family's business. She's filled with insecurities, dealing with so much more than just her family. Suffering from my own insecurities and eating disorder many moons ago, I truly felt as if I had a connection with Jessie. 

This is so much more than just a story of a moonshiner's daughter. It's an emotionally gripping, powerfully moving, page turning novel of a young woman coming of age. Heart wrenching, raw, and absolutely gritty, this is one novel written with epic proportions and details and you won't soon forget it. Do not delay. Grab this amazing novel up today and hang on for the ride of a lifetime. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Publisher and was under no obligation to post a review, positive or negative.*
Profile Image for Reading Mama.
419 reviews91 followers
February 11, 2020
What was the last book that surprised you? When I read the synopsis of this story, it immediately sounded like one I wanted to read. However, I still wasn't prepared for how much I would end up enjoying this story. The story is set in 1960's North Carolina, and Jessie Sasser is the daughter of a family who makes moonshine. Generations of her family have made moonshine, and Jessie hates that. She refuses to take part in it and even comes up with a plan to sabotage her family's way of life. As she struggles to come to terms with her family's past, including the tragic death of her mother, she must face and cope with the reality of her situation. There were parts of the story that were gritty and raw, and the world of moonshine that Everhart creates is authentic and fascinating. The history that is interwoven with the Sasser's story was interesting to read about. Everhart adds another dimension to the story by having Jessie suffer from an eating disorder as a way to cope with her mother's death. Thank you @suzyapprovedbookreviews @suzyapprovedbooktours @donnaeve2 @kensingtonbooks for allowing me to be a part of this tour!
Profile Image for Teri M Brown.
Author 2 books64 followers
March 19, 2022
Donna's character development is superb. She did an excellent job dealing with the difficult topic of eating disorders without resorting to stereotypes. I'm looking forward to reading her newest book, The Saints of Swallow Hill.
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