Heart of Palm

Front Cover
Grove/Atlantic, Inc., Apr 2, 2013 - Fiction - 496 pages
21 Reviews
“Intelligence, heart, wit . . . Laura Lee Smith has all the tools and Heart of Palm is a very impressive first novel.”—Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls

Utina, Florida, is a small, down-at-heels southern town. Once enlivened by the trade in Palm Sunday palms and moonshine, Utina hasn’t seen economic growth in decades, and no family is more emblematic of the local reality than the Bravos. Deserted by the patriarch years ago, the Bravos are held together in equal measure by love, unspoken blame, and tenuously brokered truces.

The story opens on a sweltering July day, as Frank Bravo, dutiful middle son, is awakened by a distress call. Frank dreams of escaping to cool mountain rivers, but he’s only made it ten minutes from the family restaurant he manages every day and the decrepit, Spanish-moss-draped house he was raised in, and where his strong-willed mother and spitfire sister—both towering redheads, equally matched in stubbornness—are fighting another battle royale. Little do any of them know that Utina is about to meet the tide of development that has already engulfed the rest of Northeast Florida. When opportunity knocks, tempers ignite, secrets are unearthed, and each of the Bravos is forced to confront the tragedies of their shared past.

Reminiscent of Kaye Gibbons, Lee Smith, Anne Tyler, and Fannie Flagg, Heart of Palm introduces Laura Lee Smith as a captivating new voice in American fiction.

"Like a sandspur, Heart of Palm sticks with you, drawing blood."--Rita Mae Brown, author of The Sand Castle

“Laura Lee Smith masterfully creates a deep, compassionate, and often heartbreakingly funny portrait of a wild, complex Southern family on the brink of massive change . . . . Smith is a brilliant writer, and Heart of Palm brims with lush vitality, loss, and desire.”—Julianna Baggott, author of Pure and The Prince of Fenway Park

“[An] incandescent debut novel . . . I can’t get the astonishing and benighted Bravos out of my head. And I don’t want to. What an extravagantly and engagingly flawed family this is! Smith is an enchanter casting her spell with lyrical prose, evocative details, and spellbinding characters. She explores familial chaos, reckless behavior, and hopeless love with grace, intelligence, and tenderness. She gives me what I long for in fiction: compassion and provocation. What talent, what nerve, what a wondrous and spellbinding story. Trust me, these Bravos will haunt your dreams.”—John Dufresne, author of Requiem, Mass. and Louisiana Power and Light
  

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Review: Heart of Palm

User Review  - Richard Gartee - Goodreads

The writer's craft in this novel is just outstanding. The characters are so well drawn they feel like people you've known forever. Their back-stories are revealed just a line or two at a time as their ... Read full review

Review: Heart of Palm

User Review  - Brittnee - Goodreads

Is it appropriate to say, "this is just a really good book"? The setting is familiar to me, which made reading this book a personal experience. Smith does a great job of creating and describing ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
28
Section 3
53
Section 4
75
Section 5
99
Section 6
118
Section 7
153
Section 8
171
Section 14
292
Section 15
312
Section 16
320
Section 17
337
Section 18
358
Section 19
367
Section 20
372
Section 21
386

Section 9
202
Section 10
227
Section 11
242
Section 12
256
Section 13
272
Section 22
403
Section 23
411
Section 24
425
Section 25
451
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

Laura Lee Smith’s short fiction was selected by guest editor Amy Hempel for inclusion in New Stories from the South 2010. Her work has also appeared in The Florida Review, Natural Bridge, Bayou and other journals. She lives in Florida and works as an advertising copywriter.

Bibliographic information