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Jackie Lewis
Tessa’s Heart: A Texas Story
Jackie Lewis, author
TESSA’S HEART A TEXAS STORY It’s 1952, and in the small town of Yoakum, Texas, Tessa Louise Carter – a quirky, sassy, back-talking nine-year-old – finds herself torn between her deeply religious but foul-mouthed grandmother and her beautiful bed-hopping mother. Tessa doesn’t have many friends and takes solace from talking with the ghosts of her dead great-grandmother and great-aunt – which doesn’t sit well with her mother or grandmother. What Tessa wants – and needs – more than anything, is a father figure, but the men her mother brings home are either mean and cruel or are totally uninterested in the musings of a nine-year-old. When the mother becomes pregnant by the local pastor, he flees, and out of convenience, she marries yet another of her men friends. Tessa is miserable and is sent back to live with her grandmother. When Tessa finds a human skeleton, half-buried in the mud outside her grandmother’s home, the family’s ghastly dark secret is revealed. Tessa becomes haunted by the spirit of her great-grandfather, which won’t leave her alone. When Virginia takes Tessa to live with her new boyfriend, Buck, on his ranch, Tessa finally finds the father she never had. But when Virginia decides to move to another town, Tessa has to make the most difficult decision of her life ... Hilarious and heartbreaking, Tessa’s Heart: A Texas Story is a coming-of-age story about a young girl trying to find her place in the world.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 7.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Tessa's Heart: A Texas Story is a charming and often unpredictable southern gothic set in small town Texas in the early 1950s. Lewis successfully weaves together supernatural elements with a narrative about growing up and navigating complex family dynamics. 

Prose: The prose is rich, readable, and often lyrical. 

Originality: Lewis strikes a unique tone throughout the novel, offering humor, candor, and a story of a young girl finding her way through the muck of life. 

Character/Execution: Lewis capably brings the setting to life and fills the story with memorable characters leading messy lives. Readers will deeply empathize with the titular heroine as she struggles to find her place, understand adult relationships, and fight to be heard.

Date Submitted: May 10, 2023