I love reading big family dramas, probably because my own family is small and has so little drama. In HEART OF PALM, a debut novel from Laura Lee Smith, we have plenty of big family drama. Here we meet the Bravos, who live in Utina, Florida, a small southern town on “the other side of prosperity.” It was once known for its Palm Sunday palms, but we know how that market has faded away. The town is faded too, and the people there are going through the motions. But the town is primed for the big time with a land deal that could completely change things --- but it all hinges on the Bravos’ next move. Will they sell to allow the big-time marina to come to town bringing in out-of-town big money?
There is nothing that will draw tempers and divide a family like tension of tradition vs. the chance for a quick killing. And all that is going on is also steeped with the Bravo family history --- and there is lots of it. HEART OF PALM has a great assortment of characters in those who are rooted there and those who have moved away and are distanced from their Utina roots with one long family tether cord. Between the drama are moments of great humor. I’m looking forward to more from Laura after reading this debut.