Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff: Book Review

Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff Book Cover

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Fireworks over Toccoa Book Cover

3 Stars

Lily Davis was only 17 when she married a boy she had known for a short time. He was shipping out to WWII soon as a supply man for Coca-Cola and it seemed like the thing to do before he went away. Three years later, her hometown of Toccoa, Georgia has scheduled a big homecoming party for all the returning soldiers, including parades and fireworks. Lily stumbles into Jake Russo, the fireworks man, as he’s setting up his show and he opens up a world of possibilities for her.

This just isn’t my kind of book. I love the cover, I love that it’s set at the end of World War II in a town that isn’t that far from my own. I was a little afraid that it would have more in common with a Nicholas Sparks novel than I would like, but I took a chance on it anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, it could have been written by Nicholas Sparks. Not that there’s anything wrong with this book or anything that Sparks has written, it’s just not my taste. Tell me that a book was “so good you cried for the last 50 pages,” and I will avoid that book like the plague. Not for me. And that’s the kind of book this is.

I did like Lily. She’s a headstrong woman living in a time and place where her opinions and actions are frowned upon. Her mother is trying to mold her into the perfect Southern matron, but Lily is chafing against that lifestyle. It’s probably telling of my taste in books and Lily’s character when I say that my favorite scene involved Lily assisting a black soldier passing through town.

I liked Jake too. What a hottie with surprising depths! There’s so much to him that I kind of feel bad calling him a hottie, but he is. He’s only returned from Europe recently himself, and his experiences there have of course changed him. He’s become quieter, more reflective, and more appreciative of this moment in time, because who knows what the next moment will bring.

Their story aggravated me to no end. I won’t go into why and spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that. The pacing irritated me too. Lily tells the story when she’s 82-years-old and just when I thought I might find out what happened, the action would break and we’d move back to present-day Lily for a few pages. That feels like a cheap way to sustain suspense. One scene taking place in the pouring rain had me rolling my eyes and flashing back on the movie version of The Notebook, something I only watched under duress, but that I actually liked in the end.

Like I said though, there’s nothing really wrong with this except that it’s not my taste at all. If you are a fan of Nicholas Sparks, you will definitely love this one.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me this book for review.

The Mom Review:

I held off on posting this review until after my mom, possibly Nicholas Sparks’s biggest fan, got a chance to read the book. She’s shy about writing a review, but I asked her what she thought of the book. She asked me to be nice, so this is the upshot of what she said.

She thought it was pretty good overall, especially for a first novel, and she’s glad she read it. Her biggest problem was how quickly this passionate love story happened. She also thought the characters were a little too perfect and they won’t stick with her the way Sparks’s characters do. She did like the chapter titles and learning about fireworks.

3.5 Stars from my mom.

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  1. +JMJ+

    And that reminds me of something else Sparks said that made me keep my distance. He said that he is not so much a novelist as a marketer of books–and I can totally see how that is true. What a savvy guy to know that he should have a new book out every Christmas, aye?

    And what a good daughter you are, Jen! 😉

  2. +JMJ+

    As far as I'm concerned, it could have been written by Nicholas Sparks.

    Ooooh! Kiss of death! LOL!

    I'm not a Sparks fan, either. He seems to specialise in love stories with unhappy endings, and is on the record for disparaging Romance novels, which are love stories with happy endings–which makes him too cool for the likes of me to bother with, I guess. Well, he's laughing all the way to the bank, with or without me, so it's not a big deal.

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