Review: The Secret Sense of Wildflower by Susan Gabriel

Review: The Secret Sense of Wildflower by Susan GabrielThe Secret Sense of Wildflower - Southern Historical Fiction, Best Book of 2012 by Susan Gabriel
Published by Speedy Publishing LLC on 2012-05-22
Pages: 224
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

Named a Best Book of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews! Set in 1940s Appalachia, The Secret Sense of Wildflower tells the story of Louisa May

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I’m always a little shocked to read beautiful, well-written prose when I start reading a book from an indie author. This shouldn’t be the case and should never be the norm. I’m willing to read just about anything that an author requests me to read (you can ask them how long my TBR pile is — it’s a bit embarrassing how long it takes me to get to these books sometimes). It’s reading books like The Secret Sense of Wildflower that keep me accepting indie-authored books.

It took Susan Gabriel 11 years to write The Secret Sense of Wildflower according to her Goodreads profile. You can tell. There are no superfluous words. She crafts each word, phrase, and sentence in a deliberate way. Everything is visual. Every visual has great meaning. I love the little details she includes. Each sister is named after a Little Women character, with the final daughter named for Louisa May Alcott. It’s their mother’s favorite book. Those little details create a richness of character — a depth that many authors simply cannot replicate.

Louisa May (aka Wildflower) is such a complicated girl. She struggles so much after her father’s death but is so determined to keep his memory alive even when it seems like the rest of her family would rather forget him. They move on and yet she’s determined to visit his grave every day and remember him how he was before the mill accident. He was one of the few people who knew about and believed in her “secret sense.” My family calls it a “gut feeling.” Your gut tells you all sorts of things that your brain might not notice. It gives you that feeling of dread when something bad is about to happen. Wildflower’s dedication to her dad causes her to ignore her secret sense resulting in some painful and powerful repercussions.  I was sitting in the doctor’s office reading this part and it took everything inside of me to keep from crying. It was beautiful writing that completely broke my heart. 

Despite the harrowing scenes that follow, the story never feels too heavy. There’s enough action, tenderness, and surprise to keep the book from becoming bogged down by sorrow. Gabriel has a knack of giving you just what you need to read, right when you need to read it. Relationships are repaired at just the right moment.

The only reason this is a four star book is because the ending felt a little rushed. I finished The Secret Sense of Wildflower needing to know what happened in the moments/days that followed.  I thought about it for a long time and sincerely hoped that all went well in the years to come.

The Secret Sense of Wildflower, set in 1940s Appalachia, sticks with you for a long time. What a gorgeous read.


© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.

  • Hi Jessica, thank you for your wonderful review. As an author, it is wonderful when someone really “gets” your work. I’m honored that you read and enjoyed it. In my imagination, at least, Wildflower is still alive and well and everything turns out all right. I invite your readers to visit me at Or come by my facebook author page at I’m also on goodreads and I LOVE hearing from readers.
    Thanks again!