Title: Lessons Learned
Author: Sydney Logan
Date of Publication: October 17th 2014
About Lessons Learned:
A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots. English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past. She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. As the newest faculty members at Sycamore High School, they quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance. Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love.
NOTE: Sydney will be donating 10% of all sales during the month of October to http://www.pacer.org/bullying/ in honor of October's Bullying Awareness month. In LESSONS LEARNED a secret of the quarterback of the football team sends a small conservative community reeling. Bullying can take on all forms and Sydney would like to give back to this worthy cause.
Lessons Learned by Sydney Logan
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Sarah moves back to her small hometown of Sycamore Falls after she experiences a trauma at the school where she was teaching in Memphis. She meets Lucas, who has recently moved from Manhattan to teach in a small town after a challenging experience of his own. They become friends, and quickly become more. They find happiness in each other that neither expected. Things are going great until a student with a secret starts exposing negative aspects of the small town. People are forced to learn that their intolerance can cause serious consequences. Sarah and Lucas are forced to fight for what they know is right and decide whether they can remain in a town they also love.
This book is an interesting combination of classic romance and commentary on important current social issues. The love story between Sarah and Lucas is wonderful, and it is easy to care about both characters and feel happy that they have found one another. Both have faced serious challenges in the past, but Sarah finds herself facing her worst nightmare all over again when a student she cares about struggles with a secret. I like that a lot of this book was devoted to the important topics of tolerance, and treating people with love and humanity even when your beliefs are challenged. It was tough for me at times because these characters came from a much more conservative place than I can imagine, and I struggled with the fact that even in the face of the positive message of promoting unconditional love and humanity- some characters still felt the need to repeat that they didn't agree with the "lifestyle" of one character. That said- I think this book deals with a lot of important issues in a way that accurately reflects the struggles faced by some people with very rigid belief systems. Ultimately, the messages in this book are important and positive and watching the main characters stand up for what is right was great to experience. I would recommend this to fans of classic romance who are looking for a good message with their read. 3.5 stars.
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
They say to write what you know, so for Lessons Learned, I knew I wanted to write about teaching since that’s my “day job.” Thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with the traumas my main character faces. I also knew I wanted to write a love story with a message, and bullying is such an epidemic in our society that I wanted to highlight that in this book.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing is balancing writing and promotion. I’m not very good at it. It was easier when I only had one book, but the more I write, the harder it gets to juggle it all. I’m not complaining, because I love it, but that’s the biggest challenge for me.
What are your current projects?
I’m getting ready to release a holiday collection of short stories titled Once Upon a December. It will include two previously published Kindle short stories along with a new short story. It will release on November 28. I’m also working on my fourth novel.
The piercing chime of my phone jerked me awake. Disoriented and shaking, I grabbed my cell and struggled to focus on the screen. Congratulations, Sarah. You slept a whole three hours. Falling asleep had been difficult. My restlessness could easily be blamed on yesterday’s long drive or spending the night in a new place, but I hadn’t slept well in months, so my fitful sleep wasn’t all that surprising. However, I could do without the nightmares. It was nearly three in the morning when I’d finally arrived in Sycamore Falls. Exhausted from the drive, I’d collapsed on the couch, but sleeping proved impossible. It was just too quiet. I’d grown accustomed to noisy neighbors and blasting car horns. A change of scenery could be exactly what I need, my therapist had told me. Sycamore Falls was definitely a change in scenery. Stiff and sore from the uncomfortable couch, I groaned as I struggled to sit up. My body trembled when my bare feet hit the hardwood floor. I’d forgotten how cold this house could be, even in the summer, but anything with long sleeves would be in a box, and all the boxes were arranged in a chaotic mess in my living room. Maybe some sunshine will warm me up. I wrapped my blanket around me and circled the maze of boxes before shuffling toward the kitchen. It was neat and tidy as ever, with its faded yellow wallpaper. Grandma Grace had always loved wildflowers, and I smiled as I gazed at the collection of daisy canisters lining the wall next to the sink. Mom had been a terrible cook, so grandma had taken it upon herself to teach me. Baking was my favorite, and we’d spent countless nights in this kitchen with my apron covered in flour. Grandma had been fine with making a mess—as long as I cleaned it up—and that freedom had led to many honest discussions throughout the years. “Sycamore Falls has its issues,” Grandma had told me one autumn day while teaching me how to make fried apple pies. “We’re too sheltered from the rest of the world. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes it isn’t. The world can be a scary place. It’s good to know you have a safe place to come home to when the world gets a little crazy. You’re one of the lucky ones, Sarah. You will always have a home here. Remember that.” I remember. I opened the front door and was instantly greeted with cool morning air. Eager to see the house in the daylight, I gingerly walked down the steps and onto the sidewalk. Thankfully, Mr. Johnson had hired someone to mow the grass before I arrived, which allowed me to mark one thing off my to-do list. As I gazed up at the house, I could see my list would be long. Growing up, I’d thought my grandmother’s home was the most beautiful in Sycamore Falls. Majestic and blue with its white shutters and wrap-around porch, it was the place I’d always felt the most comfortable and safe. Time hadn’t been kind to the house, and that was my fault. Mr. Johnson had done his best, but a house needs tender loving care, and its last two years without an occupant had been rough on the place. The chipped siding needed a coat of paint, the flowerbeds resembled a jungle, and some of the shingles needed to be replaced, but none of that mattered. I felt a small sense of satisfaction and breathed a sigh of relief. I was safe. I was home.
About Sydney Logan:
Amazon bestselling author Sydney Logan holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education. She is the author of three novels - Lessons Learned, Mountain Charm, and Soldier On. Sydney has also penned four short stories and is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.