(Belated) ARC Review – Tobacco Sun by Lorna Hollifield

It is rare for me to read a book so outside my realm of normal, but this one was a must-read for me – Lorna is a fellow Pen Name Publishing author and someone I consider a friend of mine on this publishing journey.

Tobacco Sun is Southern fiction, set in the 1940s, and the story goes back and forth between two half-sisters: Jimmi-Lyn and Sydra. Sydra is currently in jail for the murder of her father; Jimmi-Lyn is trying to come to terms with her own emotions, specifically those emotions surrounding her imprisoned sister and her deceased step-father. This is especially complicated because their mother recently died – that was the reason Sydra returned to rural North Carolina in the first place. Sydra is a Hollywood star – she hadn’t been back home since she was a teenager. And then there’s Vanse, Jimmi-Lyn’s childhood best friend, who returned from the war with lasting injuries and PTSD. Both Sydra and Jimmi-Lyn’s feelings for Vanse have always been complicated, which is part of this fascinating tangled web of characters and plot that I wasn’t expecting and that sucked me in from the start.

tobacco sun

3 Things I Loved

  1. Vanse. There weren’t as many chapters from Vanse’s perspective as there were from Jimmi-Lyn’s, Sydra’s, or the doctor’s, but I enjoyed his voice throughout the book. He has a complicated relationship with these sisters, and that comes through in every single voice. I like how his story ends. It was satisfying. I like satisfying.
  2. Sydra’s doctor. This guy. I appreciated that he stood up to his boss/mentor on behalf of Sydra, especially knowing how the story ended. I liked that he continued to try to get the full story, to get under Sydra’s skin, rather than just giving up on her. He was a solid character, and his character arc was also satisfying.
  3. The setting. Ah, North Carolina. I have a very special place in my heart for North Carolina. I spent six months there right after college, in the same area this book takes place, and I could feel it in the text like a living and breathing thing. The setting was almost like another character, and I loved that.

Anything Problematic?

Well. Nothing sticks out to me in my memories of reading. There are discussions of a birthmark on Jimmi-Lyn’s face that made me uncomfortable, but that’s mostly because the wording was a product of the 1940s. Same thing with Sydra and the fact that she tends to have sex outside of marriage. But it seemed really true to the time period it was set it.

In terms of personal opinions, I thought the beginning was a little slow. It could be because of the genre, but I had trouble getting into the story. It wasn’t until around the halfway point where I was super invested, and then I couldn’t put it down.


A reminder of the rating scale:

  • Red = DNF, I hated everything
  • Orange = Ugh, no thank you
  • Yellow = I mean, I’ve read worse, but there were problems
  • Green = This was good, but not something I’d reread
  • Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
  • Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart

This book was so good, but like I said, it started a little slow and the genre wasn’t my thing. Because of these two factors put together, I’m going to give Tobacco Sun a GREEN rating. So good. Just not something I’d reread.

This advanced reader copy was provided by Pen Name Publishing in exchange for an honest review. For the purposes of full disclosure, my own debut was published by Pen Name Publishing last month, and Lorna Hollifield is my friend. However, these facts do not affect my opinions about the book.

Have you picked up this book and supported an indie author today? You should. ❤

Happy reading!


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