Columnist Dave Wood wrote a terrific review for Delicate Armor in his “Book Report” ~ River Falls Journal, February 2, 2012
“In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Harper Lee created Scout; in ‘True Grit,’ Charles Portis created Mattie. Now along comes Minnesotan Connie Claire Szarke, who creates another delightful young narrator named Callie in ‘Delicate Armor.’ This startlingly good first novel opens in the 1950s…I couldn’t put this book down…the title…was spot on. Will Lindstrom described the tiny scales of a sunfish as ‘the delicate armor’ you must scrape off to reach the essence of the fish. Human beings, even the ones who live in Masterton, are also possessed of delicate armor, this book so richly demonstrates.”
* * *
From The Chanhassen Villager and The Chaska Herald:
“Reviewers have compared the new book “Delicate Armor” to classic coming-of-age novels like “True Grit,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” That’s heady praise for first time author Connie Claire Szarke…”
* * *
Literary event of the week: Connie Claire Szarke Pioneer Press Updated: 10/28/2011 03:33:38 PM CDT
Callie Lindstrom is one of the most appealing protagonists in this season’s crop of debut novels by Minnesota writers. Feisty Callie is the narrator of Connie Claire Szarke’s exceptionally well-written “Delicate Armor” (North Star Press, $14.95).
The story moves from 1952 to 1991, and that means Callie’s voice must gradually mature. Szarke gets it right; Callie is endearing as a youngster and likable as a young adult. Although there’s nothing on the cover to indicate this is a young-adult novel, it’s just right for readers 12 and older.
“Delicate Armor,” a title that doesn’t convey the book’s warmth, is about family. Callie learns to fish and speak bluntly from her father, with whom she spends lots of time at her grandparents’ cabin. As a youngster, she knows there is something wrong with her dad’s relationship to his brother, and later she tries to heal the rift.
She also learns about sadness when her grandfather dies. She tries to understand her grandmother’s meanness as the old woman shows signs of dementia, and she’s baffled by her parents’ discussions of another aunt’s mental illness.
Callie is funny, too. When her aunt “borrows” a coffee pot from a Catholic church for use after a Lutheran funeral, the girl supposes that her aunt will “likely go to hell.”
It isn’t unusual for local authors to receive endorsements from fellow writers in this supportive literary community. But Szarke is earning raves from an exceptional group, including poet/oral historian and environmental writer Joe Paddock; syndicated newspaper columnist, author and University of Minnesota senior fellow Stephen Wilbers; novelists Faith Sullivan and Pamela Carter Joern; and “Minnesota Bound” TV host Ron Schara.
- Mary Ann Grossmann, St. Paul Pioneer Press
~Unsie Zuege, excerpt from the Chanhassen Villager, January 12, 2012 and the Chaska Herald, January 29, 2012