The narrator of the story, Will Tweedy, is fourteen and he lives in Cold Sassy, Georgia. This town was modeled after Commerce, GA, as that is where the author, Olive Ann Burns’s father grew up and pulled colorful stories from. Will’s grandmother has just passed away and he finds himself dealing with death for the first time. Will is especially close to his grandfather, Rucker Blakeslee, a confident man who teaches Will about the important things in life. Adventures and heartbreaks during this pivotal time prove to be influential in who he will become. The ways of this silly, small, Southern town lighten the weight of the more dramatic parts of the story. In Cold Sassy, gossip spreads like wildfire, age is not just a number, bright colors and bold prints are for floozies, and you should only socialize with your “own kind”. Some things have changed over time, and sadly, some have not. In the end, it’s the wisdom that pours out of Rucker’s mouth, the fun filled adventures of Will Tweedy, the importance of family and the emphasis on true love that make Cold Sassy Tree a book to remember.
I think this book had such an effect on me because of a few reasons other than my Southern roots. One month after moving home from Athens, my Papa passed away.
“Well’m, faith ain’t no magic wand or money-back gar’ntee, either one. Hit’s jest a way a-livin’. Hit means you don’t worry th’ew the days. Hit means you go’n be holdin’ on to God in good or bad times, and you accept whatever happens. Hit means you respect life like it is--like God made it--even when it ain’t what you’d order from the wholesale house. Faith don’t mean the Lord is go’n make lions lay down with lambs jest cause you ast him to, or make fire not burn.” -Rucker Blakeslee
Thanks to the words of Olive Ann Burns, Will Tweedy, Rucker Blakeslee, Miss Love and all the other characters of Cold Sassy Tree will forever hold a special place in my heart. Maybe they will in yours too.