The Road to Bittersweet


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For fourteen-year-old Wallis Ann Stamper and her family, life in the Appalachian Mountains is simple and satisfying, though not for the tenderhearted. While her older sister, Laci—a mute, musically gifted savant—is constantly watched over and protected, Wallis Ann is as practical and sturdy as her name. When the Tuckasegee River bursts its banks, forcing them to flee in the middle of the night, those qualities save her life. But though her family is eventually reunited, the tragedy opens Wallis Ann’s eyes to a world beyond the creek that’s borne their name for generations. 

Carrying what’s left of their possessions, the Stampers begin another perilous journey from their ruined home to the hill country of South Carolina. Wallis Ann’s blossoming friendship with Clayton, a high diving performer for a traveling show, sparks a new opportunity, and the family joins as a singing group. But Clayton’s attention to Laci drives a wedge between the two sisters. As jealousy and betrayal threaten to accomplish what hardship never could—divide the family for good—Wallis Ann makes a decision that will transform them all in unforeseeable ways.

The Road to Bittersweet is a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance TRIO selection, was selected as a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick, and has been named a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book.

“Readers will be struck by how beautifully Everhart captures the dialect of her well-drawn characters and the landscape – both harsh and beautiful. Here is a story that tugs at the heartstrings with its believability and evocative prose, leaving readers believing there is always hope when a family stands together.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“You will fall in love with Wallis Ann Stamper as she meets the bitter challenges of her hardscrabble life, inspired by her sweet love for her family. Her grit and unfailing faith in herself will melt your heart, as it did mine.” – Sandra Dallas, New York Times best-selling author

“Donna Everhart has created a heroine with real girl power. The teen-aged Wallis Ann is persistent and tough and above all competent in the face of catastrophe, steering her bedraggled family through a series of crises. In the end, the biggest challenge she has to contend with is her own human weakness and her willingness to forgive herself. Donna Everhart has written such an engagingly fast-paced story that the plot pulled me in from the first pages.” – Julia Franks, author of Over the Plain Houses