Reading Matters

Hard not to be envious of debut novelist Kristy Woodson Harvey

At first glance, you might feel a twinge of envy. From her photographs, debut novelist Kristy Woodson Harvey is 1. young, 2. blonde, 3. pretty and polished and tanned, 4. successful.

Who wouldn’t want to rough her up a wee bit?

But look again. This young woman is so out there with her joy about the publication of “Dear Carolina” (Penguin, $15 paper), so grateful to those who’ve helped her along the way (she thanks her editor, her agent, her husband, her mom, her grandfather, her aunts and her son Will), you want to stand and cheer her on.

She’s a journalism graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, and she has a master’s in English from East Carolina University. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and 3-year-old son.

And the novel? Is it any good?

I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews are great. Actually, many are raves.

Here’s the set up of the novel: Carolina is the unborn child of Jodi, a 19-year-old, recovering alcoholic (“I’d claw and kick and spit all day long not to have that first sip.”) whose addicted boyfriend has ditched her. Frances “Khaki” Mason is the woman who has it all -- except for a second child, a child she longs to have with her new husband. The two women will grow to love each other, and Jodi will ask Khaki “the ultimate favor.” The novel is a collection of letters written to Carolina by her birth mother and her adoptive mother.

When the Huffington Post interviewed Harvey last month, she was asked what she wanted other people to know about Southern women. Here’s what she said:

“I think all women, no matter where we're from, face so many of the same joys and struggles in our lives. But I do think that Southern women have a little something special about them, a combination of softness and steel that helps them get through life. It's a cliché, but I think it's a cliché for a reason. We're raised that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but, if the honey doesn't work, there's usually a little fire there to back it up. I also think that Southern women still really value - and are valued for - their roles as mothers and/or housewives. I think it's rare to hear a Southern woman say, "I'm just a stay-at-home mom." Creating a beautiful home and driving carpool are critical life roles and viewed as such.”

Kristy Woodson Harvey will read from “Dear Carolina” at 11 a.m., June 13, at Park Road Books, 3941 Park Road, Park Road Shopping Center.