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Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl

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When her step-grandmother, a retired opera singer, dies of cancer in 1970, 15-year-old Eli Burnes runs away with a draft-dodger, thinking she's on the road to adventure and romance. Instead she's embroiled in a world of underground Weathermen, Black Power revolutionaries, snitches and shoot-first police. Eventually Eli is rescued by her father, who turns out both more responsible and more revolutionary than she'd imagined. But when he gets in trouble with the law, she finds herself on the road again, searching for the allies who will help her learn how to save herself.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 21 reviews
Jackie Vick
Coming of age during the tumultuous seventies

This beautifully written coming of age story follows Eli, a fifteen-year-old girl from the death of the woman who means to the most to her to a possible beginning with the woman who should have meant the most to her. What makes this story fascinating is the additional hurdles of growing up in the seventies. Vietnam. Drugs. Racism. Radical groups. Sexuality. As the world and those around Eli are affected by these trials, they shape the woman she will become. I love that author Macenulty created a character intelligent and curious enough to take in her experiences but never stop questioning. Characters aren't black and white caricatures but nuanced. No one is an angel or the devil. (A few come close.) A wonderful story as well as a primer on how children are shaped into adults. I highly recommend this book.

Maryka Biaggio
A Heartfelt Coming-of-Age Story

Eli, raised by an opera-singer grandmother, strikes out on her own when she loses her much-loved grandmother. But she has no idea what is in store for her during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam war. This novel offers a rich portrayal of the times and a girl who comes of age amidst the strife of demonstrations and political movements.

Michael Ross
Truckin' through the hippie culture

As someone who lived through the era of flower children, Vietnam, protests, drugs and all that went with the 1960s and 1970s, I can attest that Trish accurately captures the Zeitgeist of that time. Eli, her fifteen-year-old MC, experiences many things that should either never happen, or only happen to someone much older. Yet that was typical, in my experience. Eli and her Weathermen friends are never sure "What's happenin' man?". Eli searches for meaning, for belonging, discovering a father who wasn't as bad as she thought, a mother she never knew, and the depths and heights of human nature, as well as the caprice that can jerk apart a romance, sending her boyfriend to the jungles of Nam. This is an engaging well-written account of the White Rabbit Yellow Submarine times. You'll be curious to follow Eli to the end. Recently this book won first place in YA from the Historical Fiction Company.

Rennette Grace
Loved This Book !

Cinnamon Girl by Trish MacEnulty is a book of historical fiction. It's difficult for me to write "historical" despite it being about a 15 year old girl in 1970 (53 years ago) because I clearly remember myself as a 17 year old girl in 1970. Even though the fictional Eli Burnes was raised in an opposite area of the United States from me, I felt like some of her experiences with people and her circumstances were similar to experiences that I lived through as a teen-age girl. The similarities definitely made it easy for me to care about the main character in the novel and kept me engaged to see what happened to her next. How Eli thought and felt about what was happening and what she did in response to the events in her life that year were often similar to how I thought, felt, and reacted at that time in my life. However, some of her actions left me wishing I could stop her from doing something stupid - but they only seem stupid to me now when I've had decades of life to gain some knowledge and wisdom about avoiding dangerous situations.I give credit to the author for painting a very realistic picture of the events and culture of that year in history. MacEnulty definitely deserves kudos for capturing the inner emotions of a teen girl troubled by circumstances beyond her own control.I received a free copy of this book via The Niche Reader.

Faith Eidse
Innocence Meets Brutal World

A clear-eyed teen’s voice compels readers to dive headlong into "Cinnamon Girl." I received a review copy and turned every page, read every word of this weird-wild ‘70s introspection. From her fresh, gritty kid’s perspective, we soon learn that 14-year-old Eli Burnes is a brave soul, “a small adult,” growing up among “large children” actors at her step-grandma’s theater in Augusta, Georgia, during race riots and peace protests.Eli’s opera star grandma and their maid Miz Johnny raise her to appreciate the large emotions of human experience—the type expressed in arias and rock music—as it turns out. This proves to be a strong foundation for a child about to lose even that solidity when her grandma dies. “Her absence was like a hole in reality that followed me.”At barely 15, Eli runs North with a friend dodging the Vietnam draft, and descends into the underground of war protestors and Black Panthers invaded by sleazy FBI informants. Close friends and rediscovered family are jailed or killed, until even her radio-DJ Dad is noosed—and she runs again.Eli suffers the humiliations, assaults and indignities of a teen on the run—abandoned, sleeping in parks, at the mercy of friend and foe. Throughout however, she is informed by an emotional strength, an intelligence bred of musical and lyrical depth, as well as evolving street smarts.MacEnulty’s endearing protagonist is so authentic and honest that readers can’t help but slow down to savor each fresh observation, simile and metaphor of this impetuous narrative. “We hauled ass” when police shoot a protestor. Emotions “shower” Eli, “each one rushing after the other. I was scared, happy, appalled, worried and ashamed.”The grand themes of history are expressed with coming-of-age naiveté and realization. “I didn’t know how you were supposed to handle riots and demonstrators but shooting people didn’t seem to be the way to do it.” They run to Miz Johnny’s whose eyes are “full of jet fuel” and guardsmen gaze ”with alligator eyes.” She utters precisely the despair of war. “We felt a stupefied grief for our scarred world.”Miz Johnny fusses over Eli “as if I were an oversized cat” and eventually pulls back the shades on Eli’s sad family history. During a jail visit, Eli’s dad advises her, “Peace, compassion and love are the only things worth believing in.” And there is only one revolutionary act, “stay true.” These words puzzle and guide Eli along an enlightened path she learns to follow.Yet the ending opens another door into a new reality and we want to keep following Eli into the next episode. Fortunately, MacEnulty is working on a feature film script. More info at her website: