Readers’ Comments

LOVED IT! Wow, Jennifer. You wrote such a powerful, beautiful novel that resonates emotionally on so many levels. I really didn’t know which way you would go in the end – tragic or happy. Since we need hope these days and I am glad you went with happy… — Kate Feiffer

I loved the book!! Jennifer writes so well that you can “feel” the words and “see” the characters and the locations. The manner in which she portrayed both Louisiana and Boston, MA made me feel like I was there. Her descriptions were so vivid!!!! Also, I truly enjoyed Nell’s character and how she transformed over time. I viewed Nell as a “survivor” on so many levels. The book is steeped in historical culture and the dynamics of family relationships. The ending threw me for a bit of a loop but it was a happy ending for Nell and the children. Movie or screenplay next? — Liz Lombard

… it’s a beautifully written novel. I loved it. — Heidi

Jennifer, I loved your book talk last night by the Chilmark Library. Your writing is poetic; it is clear you have melded your poetry within your novel. — Tom Dresser

I saw in the Union Newsletter – Beyond the Blue Gate that you had written Child Bride and that it had won an award. I ordered it from my local bookstore, read it and really enjoyed it. It was a wonderful read. I found your portrayal of Nell and the late 50’s early 60’s was great.

Congratulations on the book and the award. — Gail Goodman Snitkoff

On behalf of everyone in our Hartford Book Club, thank you very much. We so appreciated meeting with you tonight for Child Bride. Great discussions! You were so open to our questions and interested in our reader reactions too. 
Your book was powerful, gentle, deep and warm. For many of us we’ll miss your characters, wonder about their lives, continue to feel sorrow for the losses. They were so authentic and real for us.
Our very best wishes for all the next book talks, interviews, awards and reader connections you’ll be making in the months ahead. We look forward to your NEXT wonderful book! — Karin Stahl

 I just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your novel, Child Bride. It is a phenomenal read! I couldn’t put the book down. 

It is my hope that you will continue to bless us with your gift. You are truly a gifted and talented writer! — Tammy Hargrove

“I just wanted to say that your book captured my attention the minute I started to read it. Your opening scene of Nell and her mother making biscuits made me feel like I was actually there baking with them. I also liked the strength of the women supporting women. Nell’s teacher, hairdressing salon group and the church woman good and bad were well depicted.
I do have a few questions about Henry though?

Yes,I do think you should write a sequel. “ —MaryAnn Dolezsar

“ I flew through your novel in a day and one half because I was so fond of Nell that I could not stand not knowing how her story would turn out. 

As I read I would turn the corner of a page where I found a passage that especially resonated for me. (A reader response habit I learned with the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking.) …I was struck by the apple/knife story her father told her. Made me wonder all the way through if she would use a knife on Henry. It didn’t fit with her character at all, but I wondered, especially later in the kitchen scene…the brownstone and slave ship passage. . . .I was startled to read that analogy . . . .such a “wake-you-up” image to experience . . .Makes slavery up-to-date.

p.204: insightful description of how someone, like Phyllis (traditional, pastorally devoted wife, yet empathetic with Charles and Nell’s needs, but not  enough to be willing to cross the line . . . .clear, crisp last line of chapter. . . . .”the way a disgusted actress would.” Lots of endings of chapters like that   . . . . . like the last note played in music. This is the perfect way to bring this piece to a close. The reader automatically sighs… the letters you wrote were full of love and feeling  . . . believable . . .human

The ending: From the acknowledgement which I read first, I gathered you pondered? agonized? questioned?  were in a dilemma how Nell’s story would end? So when I read the last lines, I actually exclaimed, aloud, “what a great ending.” If they had not come together, which I was worried would not happen, the story would not be up-lifting. Charles and Nell’s story was up-lifting, but the racism that accompanies them is not.  — Judith Miller

“I have just finished your most engaging,  thought provoking  book…..what a treat! Your writing is magical ( poetic, one might  say) and your way  with words Is amazing……I could taste, feel, touch, savor and experience everything as though actually there ….as well as empathize with Nell and her families……Mommas words of wisdom were wonderful…..I was present in the story every step of the way. 

Just wanted to say thank you for such a lovely piece of literature.” — Sally Rorer

“…I want to tell you I read your book and found it a great summer read. It certainly was a great journey for the young girl. Many sad parts but a marvelous ending here at MV…” — Betsy Gildroy

“… I read Child Bride this weekend and I couldn’t put it down. It brought so many experiences and ideas to mind – particularly long car rides through the south during my childhood. I felt like I was there again.

You shaped the characters with such care. I loved the ways both love and anger turned people toward greater understandings of one another. And Henry – I disliked his behavior so much, yet I couldn’t fully dislike him. I felt that somewhere between his days spent playing with Mary Parker and marrying Nell, something hardened him. I didn’t know what it was, but that seemed ok. He was a secretive man and it would have seemed intrusive to know more. 

And I really liked the way you revealed Phyllis’s role in the church community and demonstrated how she had to act in measured ways to both teach and lead the way to forgiveness.

The school scenes were rich.  I had read W.E.B. Du Bois’ essay, “Of the Meaning of Progress” the week before. Even though your school and his were of different eras, each writing informed the other. 

That’s a long way of saying, thank you for a book that I will always treasure…” — Sally Whipple

“… I loved it! Jennifer’s writing is exquisite and the story was so compelling – I could not put the book down. The irony is that fictional writing is typically not my genre – I’m more of a true crime (go figure 😂) and/or memoir kind of reader.  I’m glad that I made an exception for this book – it was excellent!…” — Gail

“Jennifer, could not put your book down what a great read! So inspirational! Looking forward to reading about Nell’s summers on the Vineyard!
Thank you & continued success.” — Mary Foster

“I went home and spent the rest of my evening finishing your book. I love the ending! It made me so happy to picture Nell reading on the beaches of MV”…

—Alexandra Pratt, West Tisbury Library

“…finished Child Bride… I still stayed up to 3 am one night reading ‘cause I couldn’t put it down. Will there be a sequel??“ — Ellen Snow

“I couldn’t put your novel down! It was wonderful. 😊” — Laurie Bergen Penardi

“Just finished my friend’s 1st novel. A well woven story rich in culture, family bonds and the uniquely powerful will of women. Get your copy!” — Darryl Ford Williams

“I love your book….the people and places (all familiar to me) and the poetic style in which you embraced each and every one of your characters. Congratulations again.” — Ardell Otten

“I had to write to tell you that I stayed up late last night to finish reading your new novel.  What a work of art!  Nell’s character was so beautifully drawn.  I felt I was inside her heart.  Your lyrical prose brought to life her descriptions of her dreams, her marriage, her pain, her family, and her love.  Thank you for sharing Nell with your readers.” — Gail Spear

“Loved your book. Would like to hear more about Nell. Possibly a sequel? Would you be interested in discussing your process? There is so much to discuss about the characters too…” — Rhonda Cohen

“LOVED Child Bride Jennifer! When is the next novel being released? ❤️“ — Kate Lynch Bolduc

“I had to set your book aside for a bit as my gang has been here, but I just now finished it. What a spectacular story you told and so well written.

I really enjoyed the wide range of character development that took place, and  in the story of the north and south. Your descriptions of everything from her letters back home to the drive up north etc. all made me feel as if I was right there On life’s journey with her and many of the other characters. Congratulations.” —Gerald Jones

“Jennifer, I am so late in telling you just how much I enjoyed reading Child Bride. I love your writing style and I look forward to subsequent books from you…It was hard to put down. Congratulations on your endeavor.” —Kathy Wolf

“Just finished reading the “Child Bride.” What an engaging and powerful story.  Your first person approach, wonderful writing and very real story combined to yield a readable story that showed the challenges and dreams of growing up Nell.” — Daryl Brewster

“I am thoroughly enjoying your book. I see where you will be involved in a Mark Twain program. Keep up the writing…Let me know when u write another one.” — John Byrnes

“Jennifer, I bought your book Child Bride. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.” — Bobbi McNeil

“I just finished reading Child Bride and had to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Your writing is like poetry and I absolutely loved the characters you created. Now that I have finished the book I miss having them to share the day with. Thank you for creating such a treasure…” —Sue Kantrowitz

“Just wanted to let you know how much I loved reading “Child Bride”.
I thought it was really terrific.The characters, especially Nell, were so multi-dimensional and real, and the settings of both the farm and life in Boston were imbued with such detail and resonance. The way you advanced the story “drew me in” from the get-go. I found the character of Nell as interesting and charismatic as even Celie in Color Purple. Not to mention the immersion in a time when women, particularly black women, had so few options. Even Henry’s character was not one-dimensional-he was a man of his times which, as he said, “did the best he could.” What struck me so was Nell’s pushing back, over time, to advocate for the life she wanted. It was really inspirational.
Also loved your descriptions of her relationships with her parents- made me teary at multiple points.
I loved it!…It was particularly helpful to me as I have been writing only commentary and memoir, and have wanted to move into more fiction- writing. So I paid particular attention to how you created Nells “ world” through imagined visuals and detail. The dialogue, also, was so real and crisp!…” —Leslie Ashford

 “I just finished reading Child Bride…I loved it! Here are my comments: Beginning with the photo chosen for the cover to your inspiring words about Eric & others who helped along your way; your joy and gratitude & time spent in completing thIs novel are almost palpable. You researched and wrote strategically, adding in bits of our history. I like the theme -coming of age & finding your path; one supported by family & faith…Again, well done & congratulations!” —Connie Green

“Child Bride was a riveting read that captured my attention from beginning to the end.  I loved the strong family connections and lessons.  I cringed at the women getting married at such a young age.  But I celebrated in the sisterhood that was highlighted when Nell arrived in Boston…the beauty shop and church…two places where women find refuge even today.  I also appreciated the authenticity of how the church could also shun you but ultimately rebounds with forgiveness.  This was truly a great novel and I would eagerly read another book written by this author.” —Elicia Spearman

“Jennifer- I loved the book and literally could not put it down!
Beautifully written-It left me wanting more…” —Kathy Sollitto

“I throughly enjoyed the book!  Written in a first person narrative somehow made me feel close to Nell. It is claimed that great literature is produced  when the author knows the character or situation…I was amused to find Martha’s Vineyard in the pages. This work would easily convert from prose to movie dialog. I predict a rosy future for this book.” —Robert Sarno

“I wanted to let you know that I finished your book, Child Bride, and I loved it! What a wonderful story, beautifully written. I really couldn’t put the book down. I posted a review on Amazon, and I posted a note on my Facebook page. I’ll continue to tell my friends about the book whenever I get the chance.” —Jan Schaefer

“Jennifer, Loved it! Recommended Child Bride to several friends. Looking forward to your next endeavor.” —Jacqui Budd

“Jennifer … I couldn’t put it down … what a wonderful book … I have to say… the  first scene of Nell and her dad walking miles to the grocery store and coming home empty handed is so alarming…but you create such a sanctuary on Nell’s  farm with her loving family in such a compelling juxtaposition to the nastiness of the outside world …Honestly,  I was tearing up throughout the whole book . I think there’s a sequel here … Nell getting her college and teaching degrees. The kids growing up…trouble with Henry !!! kidding aside …Congratulations on a beautiful book that was a joy ( despite the tears ) to read.” —Warmest regards, Susan van Roijen

“I just finished Child Bride and I did enjoy “meeting” Nell.  You have created a believable character who is easy for the reader to relate to, even as one cringes at how (in her naivete) she allows Henry to take away her joy in living and learning. I love the ending…knowing that she is now with a man she deserves…who will support her as she follows her dreams. My other favorite character was Momma…you gave her so much wisdom. ( You must be an old soul!)
I am in awe of your ability to create such wonderful scenes…I always felt that I was there in the room, on the bus, in the library, in the kitchen. 
Two of my favorite lines:

I saw the shadows of them and of my life here, as sunlight waned in the kitchen and the dancing dust particles disappeared. (p 51)

Sitting here now, alone, anxious to become the woman I thought I would be, the poem’s meaning began to rub against my heart and drift in and out of my consciousness, like an echo bouncing off the walls of a great empty hall. (p 70)

There were many others…they are poetic.
Jennifer, you have such a gift…I hope this is only the beginning of your writing novels.” —Fondly, Jocie Walton

“I just completed reading your novel, which I read almost entirely in one day.

I loved the story. I loved the language, I enjoyed the plot twist which was unexpected.
I loved Nell and her relationship with her parents. I did not grow up in the South, but your description of the farm in Louisiana was so vivid, I could visualize the old farm, the dusty roads and the sweltering summer heat. I could almost smell the description of the clothes the family wore after working the land all day.
I loved Nell’s determination to be educated, and then see the hardships that she experienced that derailed her initially.
The story was peppered with the brutality of racism during the 1950’s and 1960’s. However, the love and strength of family and forgiveness was prevalent throughout the story. I loved Nell’s character in spite of her mistake with Charles, which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to her in the end.

Congratulations on a story well told. It was an enjoyable read.  I could not put in down.” —Deborah Reaves

“Jen, I finished your book!  Loved it!” —Ruth Smith

“…During my first week in semi-isolation (I’ve got a husband and a dog to keep me company) I read your novel, Child Bride. It’s so good. Thank you so much. The story, characters and your writing style really drew me in. I only wish I had saved it for now, almost 7 weeks into the shut down.  I know that when we are able to have ACTUAL programs versus VIRTUAL programs at the library once again you’ll give a wonderful book talk…” —Virginia Munro

“Wonderful ,Delightful, Insightful and Enjoyable must read book. Nell, our child bride faces adversities, challenges and joys on her life’s journey to find happiness and personal fulfillment. You will be surprised by many of the plot twists the author has woven throughout the book. Well worth your time.” —Margaret Hansen Kaplan

“I finished your book while we were cruising the Caribbean. I must be brutally honest: I loved it.

Susan says that good writing is like looking through a glass covering the work…I see what she means when it comes to this novel. I’m in awe of the craftsmanship of your writing. Virtually every sentence is meticulous in its craftmanship. It must have taken a long time to write so fluidly. Congratulations!” —Mitch Pearlman

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your beautiful book. I could not put it down… What an inspiring story! And I love your writing style.” —Deb Alves

“Loved your book!!! Can you write another…?” —Sharon Johnson

“A rich and immersive evocation of life for a young black American woman in the min-twentieth century. It is the protagonist Nell’s journey as a woman seeking independence that makes this book stand out: her evolution from a child bride into a forceful and self-assured adult testifies to the incalculable value of a warm heart and an inquiring mind.” —Ursula DeYoung, founding editor of Embark Literary Journal

“A gorgeous novel, filled with lush description, powerful characters, and the triumph of young woman fighting oppression in all its myriad forms. Jennifer Smith Turner fills each page with the voice of a poet; a wonderful debut!” —Alexander Weinstein, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing

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