Thursday, February 22, 2024

Welcome to #awardwinning author Trish MacEnulty who shares fascinating details about her fabulous novel, Cinnamon Girl #HistoricalFiction #ComingOfAge @pmacenulty @cathiedunn

Cinnamon Girl

by Trish MacEnulty

Winner of the Gold Medal in YA Fiction from The Historical Fiction Company!

When her beloved step-grandmother, a semi-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. What she finds instead is 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.

Eli Burnes is fourteen at the opening of Cinnamon Girl. She realizes she’s had a charmed child-hood, being raised by her step-grandmother, Mattie, an opera singer who has her own opera company in Augusta, Georgia, and Miz Johnny, who has worked for the family as a domestic worker practically her whole life.

A precocious child, Eli didn’t have many friends her own age growing up. Her world revolved around Mattie, her musical friends, and her operas. In some way Eli’s childhood is similar to my own. My mother was a highly regarded musician in the southern town where I was raised. And I loved going to rehearsals with her or playing under Steinway piano while she accompanied her friends as they sang show tunes.

But Eli’s idealized childhood falls apart when Mattie dies. Now she must rely on her own resourcefulness. She’s curious about the world and also impulsive. She turns 15 shortly after Mattie’s death, and she’s perhaps in too much of a hurry to grow up. When her estranged father comes to take her to live with him, she runs away with her crush, who is dodging the draft. They go to New York City where her eyes are opened to the troubles going on in the country — specifically the war in Vietnam and the racism of the era. Ethical lines get blurred. Is stealing wrong? What about avoiding the draft or panhandling? When society is so full of injustice, what is the difference between right and wrong?

The 1970s were a turbulent and yet innocent time. Eli knows little about sex except what she’s figured out from Mattie’s opera or learned from a friend’s older sister. For her, getting kissed is a huge deal. After her adventures on the road with her crush turn sour, and she’s back with her hippie father and his new family, she just wants to be a normal teenager. That’s not likely to happen with her family and its secrets. But she gives it a good try. Like a lot of kids in the 70s, she tries smoking marijuana with her friends, she goes to rock concerts, and she finds a boyfriend. But once again her idyllic life falls apart.

Eli is searching for her place in the world. Without Mattie and Miz Johnny she isn’t sure who she is. Is she like her father, breaking the law in order to help other people? Or is she like her mysterious mother whom she hasn’t seen since she was two years old? Or will she wind up like her young stepmother, married with two kids before she’s had a chance to figure out who she is?

In addition to growing up in the world of opera, Eli has always loved reading. She enjoys trotting out big words and she’s always learning about life through books from Siddhartha to The Happy Hooker. Being immersed in stories from the stage as well as from the page, Eli finally understands that at some point she has to be the hero of her own life.

Trish MacEnulty

Trish MacEnulty is the author of a historical novel series, literary novels, memoirs, a short story collection, children’s plays, and most recently, the historical coming-of-age novel, Cinnamon Girl (Livingston Press, Sept. 2023). She has a Ph.D. in English from the Florida State University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida.

Trish currently writes book reviews and features for the Historical Novel Society. She lives in Florida with her husband Joe and her two tubby critters, Franco and Tumbleweed. More info at her website:

Connect with Trish:

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram •
Amazon Author Page • BookBub • Goodreads

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