Reviewed by: TAMRA BOLTON / July/August 2016
When Wanda Baham Sturrock was in high school, she was assigned to write a piece of fiction in a set number of words. She had no idea how to begin, but shortly before the assignment was due, an idea hit her. She grabbed paper, sat on the floor and began writing as fast as she could.
The thoughts came so fast, she could hardly keep up. When she was finished, she had what she calls “a funny little story about a skinny man with a knee-length white beard who lived in the jungle and swung through the treetops like Tarzan.”
Her teacher thought it was so good that she read it to the class, who roared with laughter. By the time the teacher finished, she was in tears she was laughing so hard. That’s when Wanda says she was “bitten by the writing bug.” She has been writing ever since.
Her latest foray into fiction draws on her experiences while growing up in East Texas. The first in a trilogy, “The Journey Home – Honeysuckle Sippin’” takes place in Jacksonville and the surrounding communities of Tecula and Turney.
“Everything that I am comes from the time I spent in East Texas,” Wanda says. “The way I think, the way I deal with things, my values. … It influenced the rest of my life. I love the simple things and appreciate everyday things and I believe it is directly the result of spending part of my childhood in East Texas.”
Those down-home solid values are well-represented in her writings. Set in the 1950s, “The Journey Home” strikes a chord with people who long for simpler times.
Wanda says readers have told her that they couldn’t put the book down and that: “I remember my Mama doing some of the same things as the people in the book,” “I felt like I was there;” and “The characters are so real!”
Writer Kristopher Franklin, author of “Gravedigger,” gives the book the highest praise. “Brenda Kay in ‘Honeysuckle Sippin’’ is naive … and wise. A delightful combination reminiscent of Scout Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’”
Another writer praises Sturrock’s writing for being realistic, “like peering through a window into another era.”
Sturrock says the next book in the trilogy will be set in the turbulent ’60s and deal with Brenda Kay’s coming of age. The third book will be a return to East Texas, where Brenda Kay, as a mature woman in her 60s, searches for the places and memories that meant the most to her as a child.
It will deal with how, although time changes things, the things that matter most to people can still be found … if one looks hard enough to find them.
“The Journey Home – Honeysuckle Sippin’” is available on Amazon.