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Seven Stones by Julia Lee, book review

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Quote of the Day: The conquering country writes the history. from Julia Lee’s debut novel, Seven Stones. One of the characters is explaining why much of Scottish history is unknown to outsiders. 

Seven Stones by Julia Lee is a story that links cultures, challenges beliefs, and takes you on a journey. The main character, Keilann Douglas, is entering her senior year in high school, leaving her home in Chicago, and moving to Scotland with her parents and younger sister. She is plagued by dreams of a burning man, wanders into a seven stone forest structure and meets a strange girl, has normal teenage angst regarding friendships, bullies, and boyfriends, all while trying to figure out what is happening. Is it all in her mind/dreams, or is she somehow connected to the past? Julia Lee uses her understanding of Native American culture, having grown up in rural Wisconsin and living Minnesota, combined with her interest in Shakespeare’s MacBeth and Scottish lore to weave this intriguing tale. Keilann’s mother is Native American and has strong beliefs in dreams and what they’re trying to teach/tell you. Keilann has some soul searching to do to understand what is happening and how she fits into these worlds.

DSC_0034I especially enjoyed the parts in this book that explained Native American beliefs, Scottish culture and lore, and how they were connected, especially through the main character Keilann. She is confused by what is happening, especially in her dreams, then in what seems like real time, but it isn’t. She is, of course, also dealing with normal teen problems of fitting into a new place, as a senior, and dealing with school bullies and other relationships. I finished reading this book on my flight over to the Hawaiian Islands. I decided to find a place to leave it. I didn’t see any “Little Libraries” or “Take a book, leave a book” shelf in Honolulu, so I ended up leaving it at the resort where we stayed on Kauai. I wrote my website inside the book cover, and maybe someday I’ll hear from someone who picks up this book. I believe that the physical book, as well as the story that Julia tells, is one that crosses the oceans and encompasses many cultures.

While we were on Kauai, we drove up into the canyon, and at one look-out, a native Hawaiian was standing on a bench telling anyone who would listen that the history books don’t necessarily tell the true story of the Island people. He seemed quite upset that treaties were broken, land taken away, and culturalDSC_0689 practices squashed. Sounds much like what we hear happened to the Native Americans in my home state of Minnesota. Julia points out in her book, that the conquering country in Scotland also tried to control beliefs and practices of its native people. 

You can find out more about the author Julia Lee and her writing journey on her website. 

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever dug a little deeper into history to learn more about the people and their practices that might not be covered in your traditional history books and classes?

  1. Great review, Mary. Her quote is absolutely spot on in regard to conquerors and history. History is written by the victors, indeed. That’s why we have to continue writing our own stories passed down from our grandparents, or through various means. There is truth in folk stories however embellish some parts. And so much remains untold, real stories that would enrich our understanding of the world we live in. Thank you for sharing this. Think I’m going to mark the book as ‘to read.’

  2. Our indigenous people had a terrible go of it too. They still do. It’s so sad.

    I’ve noticed that barely suppressed rage in Hawaii. When I went to the islands, we stayed on Maui, but I wish I’d gone to Kauai instead. I’ve been told it’s more authentic, with more Polynesian culture.

  3. I adore history. I think that’s one of the things I like most about writing, how it forces me to get out there and delve into the human condition across continents and centuries.

  4. Sounds like an interesting story. I love the idea of leaving the book for someone else to find/read.

    I hope they get in touch with you!

  5. Great review, Mary; sounds like something I’d like to read (sadly, I’m not traveling to Hawaii anytime soon 😉 ). Interesting how Native American and Scottish lore get intertwined… and the author using her own experience of Native American culture to inform this book; how cool. Like Crystal said, one of the joys of writing is the research, and when it has to do with history it’s a special treat—to carry out, sure, but also to read the final product. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Stopped by to say hi from the Lost & Found hop. Looking forward to your post tomorrow!

  6. Mary, I think it’s neat you left the book for someone to find and enjoy, and also, your website in the event they might reach out. I can’t wait to hear the sequel to this post, when that reader taps you on the shoulder. Sounds like an intriguing read, and neat you made a real-life connection on your Hawaiian adventure!

  7. You not only made the book sound quite intriguing but displayed so well!!

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