Two Memorable Books by Tamra Norton
Reviewed by Michele Ashman Bell

One new book from Tamra Norton will delight young girls, even as their mothers read a Tamra Norton book that is tailored to their own lives.

Make Me a Memory by Tamra Norton
Bonneville Books, 118 pages

Even though this book is geared toward middle-grade readers, as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed reading, “Make Me a Memory,” a new release from Tamra Norton.

The story follows the life of eleven-and-a-half-year-old Allie Claybook, and her mom and younger brother Spencer, as they move from Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, to Edna, Idaho, to live with her grandma and her great-grandma (who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease).  They are moving because her father has gone to Iraq as a soldier to rebuild roads, bridges and other things damaged in the war.  He’ll be gone at least a year or maybe even longer.

Tamra Norton does a wonderful job of telling the story from Allie’s perspective and even though the move isn’t easy, Allie manages to find plenty to do in Idaho to keep things interesting and exciting. 

As with all of Norton’s stories, Make Me a Memory is layered with great characters, a wonderful plot, and plenty of heart. 

One of my favorite characters in the book is Abraham Lincoln, her grandmother’s goat, who happens to think he’s a watchdog.  Also, the relationship Allie builds with her great-grandma, called Nanna, gives the story a lot of texture and teaches children to not only value the elderly, but to have compassion for those who suffer from the cruel illness of Alzheimer’s, which Allie and her brother refer to as, “Oldtimer’s disease.” 

Through a series of e-mails we get to know Allie’s father and learn about the experience he is having in Iraq.  He’s a wonderful character and has a loving warmth about him that shines through each e-mail he sends to his daughter.  This form of correspondence effectively gives the sense of separation the family is experiencing.  But we also feel the closeness they share through the e-mails to each other which makes them feel like they are just a computer click away from each other.

Make Me a Memory is a charming, delightful story that will keep young readers engaged and thoroughly entertained.  Tamra Norton has definitely found her niche in this market and I look forward to reading more books from her. 

by Tamra Norton
Bonneville Books, 161 pages

This is the third installment in the “Molly Mormon” series and a much awaited book for fans of this series.

We’ve followed Molly Chambers through the first two stories as she faces the challenges of becoming a young woman, dating, finding the man of her dreams, and finally as she gets married.  But now, in “Molly Mommy?” we see Molly face some of her greatest challenges.  Thankfully, the growth she’s experienced in the first two books prepares her for the future and, as a happily married woman, she faces these challenges in true “Molly” fashion, with faith and with humor.

Molly and her husband are both students at Idaho State University, where they are struggling students who live on fudge-covered Oreos, tuna casserole and love. 

Gordon, Molly’s husband, is also her biggest fan, along with Molly’s brother, Curt, who moves in with them to help pay their rent. The two men persuade Molly to try out for the women’s basketball team.  She’s convinced she’s not good enough to make the team but at their insistence she decides to give it a shot.  To her surprise she makes the team and meets a new friend, Amy, a non-member.

As basketball practice begins, so do Molly’s feelings of fatigue, nausea and dizzy spells.  After talking to her cousin Shannon, who is expecting a baby, Molly realizes that either Molly’s symptoms are contagious or she, herself, is pregnant. 

Because of her “condition” Molly ends up quitting the team, but stays close to her new friend, Amy, who also has become close friends with Molly’s brother, Curt. 

Tamra Norton has a true talent of writing stories that have humor, realism and spiritual depth and Molly Mommy? is no exception.  I found the characters to be as delightful as they were in the first two installments – even the “bad guy” Chad Hanks, who was responsible for getting her cousin Shannon into trouble years earlier, resulting in Shannon giving a baby away for adoption.  In this story we finally get closure and a very satisfying resolution with these characters.

Readers will be thrilled to see the great growth Molly has undergone through the three books and will feel as though they are visiting an old friend when they read this story.  Norton provides engaging main characters, but always weaves in fascinating and oftentimes, quirky, secondary characters, giving the story a rich blend of characters and interesting plotlines. 

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, that’s okay.  You can still read Molly Mommy? And then go back and catch the first two.  You won’t be disappointed and you’ll feel as though your time has been well spent.