Heart of Palm
“Spiraling subplots with highly emotional scenes reveal unexpected twist and turns, making this novel one that will stay with the reader long after turning the last page.”
The small town of Utina, Florida, has been the home of the Bravo family for generations. Twenty-five miles of St. Augustine, Utina is situated on the Intercoastal Waterway. Notorious in Utina, the Bravos are known for being bullies as well as for their laziness.
In 1963, Dean Bravo spots Alva Bolton walking down a deserted road while driving. Offering her transportation to her home in the tony section of Davis Shores in St. Augustine, he is instantly smitten. The rest, as they say, is history.
Alva decides she is going to marry Dean after finishing high school. Her parents are horrified their only child would wed someone beneath her, but when Alva makes up her mind, nothing can change it.
The two tie the knot in 1964 and honeymoon on Lake June in Winter Haven, Florida. Dean rents a boat for Alva to water ski, and he is proud of his beautiful wife, finding her flawless in every way. But an accident ensues, and Alva is gravely injured by the boat’s propellor. Suddenly she is no longer perfect in Dean’s eyes.
Dean buys an old Victorian home in Utina, which he calls Aberdeen, where the couple settle. Time segues several years and this beautiful, tiny town is floundering on hard times.
Alva and Dean’s children are now grown. First born Sofia suffers a mental disorder, so Alva protects her at all costs.
Oldest son, Carson, is married to Elizabeth with a seven-year-old daughter. With a fairly lucrative business in St. Augustine, he will not live in Utina because of old hurts from his childhood.
Frank, the youngest runs a restaurant close to Aberdeen. Alva purchases an eatery after a relative’s passing, putting Frank in charge.
Alva is somewhat of a hermit as well as a hoarder. Her life changes after the death of her youngest son, 15-year-old Will. Dean abandons her, leaving her to care for her family alone. Although Aberdeen is run down and inhabited by termites, Alva and Sophia love it.
A developer comes to town, offering them an unbelievable price for the property. Alva does not want to move, but Carson persuades her now is the time to start over while withholding his own agenda.
Heart of Palm is a complex novel, finely developed with multifaceted characters. Dysfunction abounds, though family members are linked by threads of love. The descriptive scenery of the Florida location and the abject poverty the Bravo family faces is compelling. Spiraling subplots with highly emotional scenes reveal unexpected twist and turns, making this novel one that will stay with the reader long after turning the last page.