Julia Lee’s debut novel is “Seven Stones.” Although the author comes from descendants of various immigrants, her family has always identified most with their Celtic heritage. Julia’s interest in all things Irish and Scottish began at a very early age wanting to learn everything about family history from haggis to speaking Gaelic. She comes from a family of storytellers and readers.
In 2011 Julia and her husband Shane moved from WI to Brainerd, Minnesota for his job. While living in the area she was employed by the Brainerd Public Library. At this time Julia became more aware of the presence of Ojibwe culture. She immersed herself in readings finding out there are many similarities between Celtic and Ojibwe cultures. Both cultures have long histories of oppression, both share a deep respect for nature, worshipping in the spirit world of immense power and reverence for dreams. The manuscript for “Seven Stones” took about a year to write from start to finish. Her debut novel was published by River Place Press in Brainerd. “Seven Stones” is in its third printing. Julia and her husband reside in SW Minnesota. Currently she is researching and writing the sequel to “Seven Stones” as well as a futuristic dystopian series for young adults.
“Seven Stones” is a YA historical fiction novel though the story will appeal to older readers too. The story begins with the main character, Keilann, waking up from a dream. Though the nature of the dream isn’t fully explained in the beginning what really kept me turning the pages was the strange nature of her dreams and wanting to know more why she was haunted by strange visions. The author is adept at building suspense to keep the reader fully engaged.
The story follows Keilann and her family from Chicago to Scotland where her parents have secured teaching jobs. I was drawn into the aura of mysticism when Keilann discovers an ancient ring of seven stones and a strange silent girl. It was as if this girl had walked straight out of Keilann’s nightmares. Like any other teenager Keilann is challenged by fitting in. Her sister, Fiona is more mainstream and has fewer problems. When Keilann attracts the attention of the school bully her school life becomes miserable. As someone who would rather blend in, Keilann certainly stands out more than ever at her new school. Being part Ojibwe suddenly becomes more of an issue than it was for her back home in Chicago. I liked how the author wasn’t afraid to tackle issues of bullying and self-identity that many girls face in this age group. The family issues Keilann and her family face throughout the story are poignant and realistic. Keilann’s parents are a big part of their children’s lives. In the story we not only get to see Keilann’s growth but her family’s as well. We also read about the developing friendship between Ben, a schoolmate and Keilann, His friendship proves him to be an ally as well as a soul mate.
I liked the mystical world with beautiful descriptive settings, authentic characters, unfolding mysteries, and topic matter created by the author. When blended with a sense of Scottish history and Shakespeare it makes for an especially intriguing read. The story is complex and driving plot questions are resolved by the end of the story.
Julia Lee hopes readers will be inspired by the strong female character, Keilann who goes through an emotional and spiritual rebirth. The author also wants readers to take away a new respect for cultural differences within their own communities.
It’s the perfect read for Native American Heritage month.
To learn more about Julia, her book and upcoming appearances visit her website at www.julialeebooks.com