Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Carnival Girl by Sonja Herbert - Review and Guest Post

by Sonja Herbert
Publisher:  Cedar Fort, Inc.
Publication Date: June 12th 2012
ISBN:  159955996X
Genre:  Memoir
Book Synopsis:  The only life little Sonja Francesco has ever known is traveling the carnival circuit and living with her five siblings in a tiny caravan home. The family never stays anywhere long enough for Sonja to make friends or develop roots. The only one in her family, Sonja always believed in God and wants to belong to a church. 

At fourteen, Sonja meets the Mormon missionaries and develops a strong testimony of the truth of the Gospel. But can she live the commandments while traveling with the carnival and running one of the attractions every Sunday? Will it be possible for her to leave her family’s life behind and live the life she has always dreamed of?
I am so excited to be part of the Carnival Girl blog tour.  I am even more excited to have a guest post provided by the author Sonja Herbert.  I'd like to take this time to warmly welcome Sonja to my blog, and I do hope that all the readers pick up her book - you won't be sorry!!!

Guest Post from Author Sonja Herbert

 During the few times we carnival children attended school, I once received an A for a story about a Greek myth I had written, and on that day I decided to write about my mother’s life when I grew up. 

Many years later, I married an American GI and moved with him to the States. We bought a home in Manti, and one day I did a brave thing. I went to nearby Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and asked if I could attend a class. They agreed. If I’d get a good grade, I could keep taking classes. I started with English 101. Studying came easy to me, and I enjoyed the class a lot. Our final paper was to be an autobiography. I wrote about my childhood in our traveling carnival in Germany, and was quite surprised to receive an A+.

All through the time I raised my six children, I kept attending first Snow College, then SUU, and BYU. When I received my MA in Language Acquisition and my two youngest children were in middle school, I decided the time had come to write in earnest. I started writing about my mother’s life. As the story unfolded, I realized that it would not be complete unless I also told the story of my childhood, and so I did.

I originally called my memoir Conversations with Margot (my mother’s first name), but since the novel I wrote about her life isn’t published yet, I decided to re-name the memoir and publish it first.

And that’s how Carnival Girl began.
About the Author:  Sonja Herbert and her five siblings were raised in a caravan, traveling the carnival circuit from town to town in post-World War II Germany.
Sonja converted to the LDS Church, later married, and immigrated to the United States, where she received a bachelor of arts degree at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, and a master of arts degree from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She also raised six children, taught school and ESL, and is now a freelance writer.
Besides her childhood memoir, Sonja has also written many autobiographical stories, which have been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and other anthologies. A biographical novel about her half-Jewish mother’s experiences in Nazi Germany is almost finished.
Sonja lives in Provo with her husband and cat. You can find more about her unusual life at germanwriter.com.
My Thoughts:  Carnival Girl is a beautifully written, heart-felt novel of Sonja's family life following WWII.  I wan honestly not sure what to expect when I started reading the book, and I was so wonderfully surprised at the very moving and authentic writing of Sonja Herbert.  This is probably one of my favorite reads this year.

The novel starts out with Sonja's mother - Mutti - coming to visit her in Utah from Germany.  The story goes back and forth between the present time and the visit to memories and recollections of their past in the carnival circuit.  Sonja's family went through many ups and downs during her childhood; and during that time she developed a strong faith in God - even though it was not encouraged by her family.

I thoroughly enjoyed the vivid descriptions that Sonja was able to provide us of everything around her.  From the descriptions of her 5 siblings, her parents (Mutti and Vati), the towns in which the circuit traveled, the orphanage in which they stayed for a short time, and her own internal voice.  I do believe that Sonja Herbert is a true master at the art of writing.  She is able to tell in such detail all her joys and sorrows - much more than I can even think of mine.  The emotions she portrays are so endearing.  I felt for her throughout.  I also felt deeply for Mutti.  The time she must have had in raising 6 children while traveling a carnival circuit, and all during the time following WWII.  I could not even begin to fathom all of the hardships in which this family had to prevail.  However, Sonja Herbert gives us such a wonderful glimpse at their life - I could not imagine that she could have left much out.

The story of Sonja's journey in her faith, while so intertwined, is not the forefront of the novel, but it definitely is an important aspect of her life.  I don't feel that the story or her life would have been the same without it.

I'm telling you - you really need to pick this book up and read it cover to cover.  The feeling and emotions that I traveled through as I read this book made me feel as if I were on a roller-coaster, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thank you Sonja for sharing your life with us, and allowing me to be a part of your tour!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sara, for the wonderful blog tour stop!


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