Olivene Love, 13, is the eldest daughter of Everlasting and Susanna Love. With a name like Everlasting Love, what could her father be but a traveling preacher in the South in 1957. Their stop in Binder, Alabama was supposed to be like every other stop, 3-days of revival meetings and move on.
But Ollie meets Jimmy Koppel who follows her during her walk into town from their campsite and that changes everything. Jimmy’s mother, Virginia, is in jail for confessing to the murder of his father, a man no one likes and who beats her. Once Virginia is moved to the county jail, Jimmy will be forced to live with an aunt in Tennessee who he never met. Jimmy is convinced of Virginia’s innocence and convinces Ollie as well, who then convinces her father to get involved in trying to save the Koppels.
Tess Hilmo’s debut novel With a Name Like Love is a charming read for late elementary schoolers. Ollie and her four sisters disagree with each other, as sisters do. Her parents seem to be the perfect parents, understanding their children, holding family councils, knowing what the ‘right thing to do’ is and instilling this understanding in their children. The townspeople run the gamut from the kindly Ms. Mahoney to the distasteful Esther Carter. Thus, Hilmo’s characters are real, some fun and endearing, some not so nice. Her plot is plausible and her writing is descriptive, drawing you in from the beginning. And without preaching (no pun intended), she instills upon the reader the desire to do the right thing, something we need more of in this world. Hilmo’s story and writing remind me a little of Richard Peck, a little of Kathy Appelt, and a little of Clare Vanderpool, in other words, good company.
We can use a little more love in this world, so read With a Name Like Love.