Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway - The Other Side of Certain by Amy Willoughby-Burle

My Review

The Other Side of Certain is a historical novel set during the Depression. It is the story of Mattie Mobley, a young woman from a privileged background who dreamed of being a teacher - so she traveled from Asheville to a very rural part of Kentucky to start a one room school and become a Pack Horse Librarian. There is a mystery in Certain, Kentucky involving an abandoned church (now a library) and a widower who is exiled outside of town with his children. She is determined to learn the story ... especially after she meets the widower.

I wanted to read this novel because I was intrigued by the Depression era setting. I also loved the idea of Pack Horse Librarians!

This is just a lovely read.  I found myself immediately transported to another time and place by the author's storytelling, and felt like I was discovering the town of Certain just as Mattie was. I was very intrigued by the church-turned-school and the mystery of the broken church window there.

Daniel, the exiled widower, is a fascinating character and I loved his slowly unfolding connection with Mattie.

The author is a wonderful descriptive storyteller. I loved details like:

Back in the church, I discovered that the pews did serve as bookshelves. Volumes of literature of all types were categorized along the rows, spine out or flat down for magazines and other things. “That’s clever,” I said, pointing to a bookend made from a license plate folded at a ninety-degree angle. I could see them all through the rows. “We make do,” Ava said, coming to stand beside me. “People send all sorts of things as donations. Nothing goes to waste.  When you don’t have much, much care is given to everything" (eBook location 195).

I highly recommend The Other Side of Certain to fans of historical fiction, and especially to anyone who is interested in 1930's America. This is the first in a new series, Love for Certain, and I look forward to reading more of this series in the future.

Book Synopsis

For the love of love…and books

Mattie Mobley planned to be a teacher, but when times grew tough during America’s Great Depression, and there were no teaching positions in her hometown of Asheville, NC, Mattie found work starting a school and helping the Pack Horse Librarians just over the mountains in the rural town of Certain, Kentucky. She’s not certain at all that this is a good situation, but she’s determined, and honestly, a little desperate. Of all the things that Mattie does have—money, comforts, a good name, she doesn’t have what matters most—friends, love, and a purpose of her own.

Daniel, “The Grizzly Bear,” Barrett had a lovely life for a little while. Overcoming his family’s bad name and worse reputation, he made a life for himself in Certain. He was married with children and a figure of respect in his church, but desperate times called for desperate measures and a terrible tragedy was the result. Now exiled with his children along the wily run of the Hell for Certain Creek, Daniel has gotten used to being the town pariah again. It’s in his blood after all. Right? Maybe not, but he’ll need the powerful influence of love not only to change his own mind about himself but to convince his estranged extended family and the whole town as well.

Can one librarian with a saddlebag full of books make people see the difference between fact and fiction? Mattie loves a good story, and this may be her best one yet. Fiction tells the best truths and the best truth of all is love.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Author Bio

Amy Willoughby-Burle grew up in the small coastal town of Kure Beach, NC, and now lives in Asheville, NC with her husband and four children. She teaches creative writing and works as a freelance editor when not working on her own fiction. She is also the director of Wildacres Writers Workshop. She is the author of the novels The Lemonade Year and The Year of Thorns and Honey. Her award-winning short fiction has been published in numerous journals and in her collection, Out Across the Nowhere. Her fiction focuses on the importance of family and friends and centers on the themes of forgiveness, second chances, and finding beauty in the world around us. She likes to write about the wonder and mystery of everyday life.

Visit her online at You can also Amy on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.


Enter to win this fun prize package including:

Tote Bag
Journal & Pens
$25 Amazon Gift Card
Paperback copy of The Other Side of Certain

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on October 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

The Other Side of Certain