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Critical Praise

“Independence Day is a turning point for the Bravo family of small-town Utina on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway....The Bravos, once notorious Utinabadasses, find their adult ties of guilt and regret beginning to frazzle as long-dormant resentments emerge. Smith’s debut novel exudes authenticity.... She turns a phrase with wit....Writ[ten] with agility and empathy.”
      — Publishers Weekly

"Like a sandspur, HEART OF PALM sticks with you, drawing blood."
      — Rita Mae Brown, author of THE SAND CASTLE

“Intelligence, heart, wit . . . Laura Lee Smith has all the tools and HEART OF PALM is a very impressive first novel.”
     — Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of EMPIRE FALLS

“Laura Lee Smith masterfully creates a deep, compassionate, and often heartbreakingly funny portrait of a wild, complex Southern family on the brink of massive change...Smith is a brilliant writer, and HEART OF PALM brims with lush vitality, loss, and desire.”
     — Julianna Baggott, author of PURE and THE PRINCE OF FENWAY PARK

“[An] incandescent debut novel...I can’t get the astonishing and benighted Bravos out of my head. And I don’t want to. What an extravagantly and engagingly flawed family this is! Smith is an enchanter casting her spell with lyrical prose, evocative details, and spellbinding characters. She explores familial chaos, reckless behavior, and hopeless love with grace, intelligence, and tenderness. She gives me what I long for in fiction: compassion and provocation. What talent, what nerve, what a wondrous and spellbinding story. Trust me, these Bravos will haunt your dreams.”
      — John Dufresne, author of REQUIEM, MASS. and LOUISIANA POWER AND LIGHT

“From the lyrical opening that sets up this story, Smith’s voice moves to an earthy voice grounded in the tradition of our great yarn-spinners, giving us a Florida Cracker family saga rich in humor and vivid characters who are all-too-realistically violent, crazy, hilarious, big-hearted, and tragic. This is a heartily ambitious novel that’s also a real page-turner, a real story with real people in a place rendered in such palpable detail you feel you know it as well as the people who live there.”