Saturday, March 20, 2010

Show Me 5 Saturday: Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff

Alipet at That's a novel idea started a new MEME called Show Me Five Saturday. Unfortunately, our host has been missing in action but Jenners puts up a Mr. Linky if you would like to play along. This meme will give each blogger an opportunity to give a brief description of a book they have read or reviewed during the week. It will work like this: Each Saturday you will post the answer to these questions.

  1. Title of the book: Fireworks over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff
  2. Words to describe the book: Southern romance
  3. Characters you met or location:
  • Lily Davis Woodward : twenty year old young woman who meets and falls in love at first sight with Jake. Although Lily's husband Paul has been fighting in WWII for three years and is due home in several days, Lily has no qualms about having a two day tempestuous affair with Jake. I found Lily to be a fanciful young woman with a bit of the rebel in her no matter how much she tried to kowtow to societal mores.
  • Jake Russo: young Italian immigrant who is commissioned by the town of Toccoa to set up a fireworks display for the July 4th celebration. When Lily stops by to see his practice fireworks, he is immediately taken with her; so much in fact he writes the formula for a rare blue firework star that he names Stella di Lily. Even though Jake realizes Lily's husband Paul will be home soon, he pleads with Lily to leave Toccoa and Paul behind to follow him around the world setting up fireworks. One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the whole book involve Jake's flashback to seeing his father in an internment camp in Tennessee just because he was of Italian descent.
  • Honey Davis: Lily's mother who keeps reminding Lily of her duty to Paul and to society. Honey is a formidable woman who rides roughshod over everyone else's opinions if they do not coincide with hers. She has definite ideas of what a woman's place is in 1945.

4. Things you liked/disliked about the book:

  • I very much liked the southern setting of Georgia and the WWII time frame. Stepakoff really put me in the scene in the small town of Toccoa with his characters and their mannerisms.
  • The relationship beween Lily, her granddaughter Colleen and her parents was very well executed. I could feel how close she was to her father and granddaughter and how she felt intimidated by her mother. Even though Colleen was a minor character it was easy to see that Lily had a good realtionship with her; probably one she wished she had had with her own mother.
  • Descriptions of the time and the area were extremely well done. It was easy to feel the heat and humidity of the summer days.
  • The torn feelings Lily experienced about her decision to leave Paul or stay and do what was expected from her; adherence to responsibility, duty and vows made. She swore she loved Jake. I'm not too sure I belive in life changing decisions of this magnitude based on a two day affair but Stepakoff does know how to write a tender love scene. I'm just not sure how believable it all is.

5. Stars or less for your rating: Due to some doubt on my part about Jake being her true soul mate I gave the book 3.5 stars as I did enjoy the story. The time frame, the setting, a lot of historical facts about fireworks and Georgia (who knew Georgia had a gold belt ?) and the descriptions probably contributed to most of the rating. Definitely worth a read for a debut novel. I would certainly read another one of Stepakoff's work.

Disclosure: An ARC of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press through Shelf Awareness.


  1. Overall, sounds like a good read. I gave my ARC to a friend to read!!

  2. I've read mixed reviews so I understand yours. Is it paperback or did you get a pb ARC?

  3. Although it apparently did not happen in the book, it seemed to me like five minutes after the heartbreak with Jake, Lily would think she was in love with someone else. Her flightiness was one reason, for me, anyway, why it was hard to feel too broken up about her, although I did feel badly for Jake.

  4. Great review. I have had my eye on this one but wasnt sure.

  5. Nice review. I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

  6. I pass Toccoa, GA when I visit my parents, so I need to read this one.

  7. I've seen this book all over lately. Still not sure if I am going to read it.

  8. you liked it more than I did.
    I agree the setting is well done, and I liked Lily's parents as characters.

    But this Grand Romance..I never bought it for a minute. For me, it was a book that never reached it's potential.

  9. This sounds like a good one. I too would be skeptical about love after a two day fling. But you never know :)

  10. Nice review - I haven't read it but I think I would share your reservations about this relationship but still worth reading if it comes my way.

  11. It sounds hard to sympathize with Lily ... but I guess her husband has been away but still.

  12. I'm reading this one right now. I'm not sure what to think of it just yet.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  13. I enjoyed your review of the book! Good one!


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