In a new novel from award-winning author Walt Larimore, a loving rural family struggles to survive tragedy and cope with the invasion of modern ways in the 1920s.
In the Great Smoky Mountains wilderness in 1925, Nathan and Callie Randolph, with their five unique daughters, struggle to maintain their farm, forests, family, and faith against a menacing business and an evil company manager trying to pilfer their land and clear cut their forest.
As loggers invade the mountains, death touches the family, and hardship and loss confront them again and again; fifteen-year-old Abbie Randolph becomes mother to her sisters and leans on her faith to guide her through the emotional wilderness of changing times. With the march of the industrial age, the roaring twenties, Prohibition, the increasing momentum for national parks, and the onslaught of a modern world, the traditional life and ways of the mountaineers were about to change forever.
Featuring a cast of colorful characters, including independent and earnest mountain families, a murderous lumber company manager, Cherokee Indians, a band of gypsies, desperados, lumbermen, moonshiners, a world-famous writer, and Civil War heroes, Hazel Creek reveals a gripping struggle of good and evil during an eruption of violence.
A beloved family physician, Walt Larimore is the perfect author for this novel of love, loss, and injury that illuminates the enduring power of faith.
This reading group guide forHazel Creekincludes discussion questions. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What surprised you about life on Hazel Creek?
2. Did you have any misperceptions about mountain people? If so, what were they and how did this book change them or support them?
3. With which character do you most closely identify and why? What do you see as his or her strengths and weaknesses?
4. Which of the Randolph sisters did you like the most and why? Do you have any predictions about what may become of them in the next book?
5. The lumber company believed in the right of subduing the earth and ruling over it. Was their view correct? Can you think of any verses to support that belief? What obligations do we have to wisely care for the earth and natural resources? Can you think of any Bible verses that support your view?
6. Many of the characters in the book depended upon scripture memory as they faced various obstacles. Do you see this as a strength or a weakness, a comfort or a crutch? Do you believe you need to memorize more scripture or not? Why or why not?
7. Could you identify with Abbie’s reluctance to be forced to give gifts to the poor family on Eagle Creek? Have you ever been reluctant to give to others in need? Does the Bible give any direction on this issue? If so, what examples can you think of?
8. Nate decided to allow Maria and Danya (strangers to him) to stay on his farm. Do you think this was wise or foolish? Would you do the same today? Why or why not?
9. How did Nate’s faith change as he was challenged by Callie’s death and witnessed firsthand how faith works in the lives of others?
10. Have you encountered someone whose faith seemed so real that they inspired or challenged you? Who was that person? What attributes did he or she exemplify to you? Do you demonstrate your faith in a way that speaks to others? If so, how?
Walt Larimore, M.D. is a noted physician, award-winning writer, and medical journalist who hosted the cable television show on Fox’s Health Network, Ask the Family Physician. He lives in Monument, Colorado.
“Walt Larimore isn't just a great storyteller. He paints word pictures that linger like country wood smoke—so strong you can't get it out of your mind. Once you experience Hazel Creek, you'll never want to leave.”
– Chris Fabry, author of ECPA Best Fiction winner Almost Heaven
“This captivating story took me to a simpler time when humans were closer to creation and to the creator. I found in it echoes of Christian classics—Catherine Marshall's Christy, for one—and that puts Larimore's book in the best of company. Being in the Great Smoky Mountains wilderness when it was still wild nourished my soul!"
– Julie L. Cannon, author of I'll Be Home for Christmas
“A powerful, heartwarming story of courage, love, and faith, Hazel Creek is sure to leave the reader ready for a sentimental journey into an era and region that has charmed the hearts of millions.”
– Eric Wiggin, author of Skinny Dipping at Megunticook Lake, Emily's Garden, and fourteen other Christian novels
“A compelling story of courage and faith.”
– Augusta Trobaugh, author of Sophie and the Rising Sun and River Jordan
“In Hazel Creek, author Walt Larimore tells a story woven through with timeless themes of family, friendship, and faith. He deftly recaptures life in the Great Smoky Mountains in the mid 1920s through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Abbie Randolph, weaving in both love and loss and the occasional lyrics of songs that add a sweet touch of music to the story.”
– Beth K. Vogt, author of Wish You Were Here
“Larimore captures both the natural beauty and the culture of the people who once lived there that makes Hazel Creek one of the most beloved sections of the Great Smoky Mountains.”
– Daniel S. Pierce, Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and author of The Great Smokies
“Hazel Creek intertwines fictional characters with historical facts so well that they come alive in a unique way that will stir the hearts and minds of readers and will encourage them to become better people. The research given to this writing is impeccable and the sensitivity to the inward character and integrity of our beloved mountain ancestors is nothing short of inspired insight. I am simply delighted with Hazel Creek!”
– Judy Andrews Carpenter, Founder/Director of The Proctor Revival Organization
“Hazel Creek is an American portrait of day to day life in the early 20s. Through the eyes of Abbie, we feel the struggles, courage, determination, and faith of the Randolph family. This glimpse into the past stirs the heart and leaves us wanting more.”
– David Stevens, MD, CEO of Christian Medical & Dental Associations, author of Jesus MD, and co-author of Leadership Proverbs
“Walt Larimore’s Hazel Creek stands right along with Katherine Marshall’s Christy or Francine Rivers’ The Last Sin Eater. This book will stir your emotions at a deep level, entertain, and open your eyes to a different time and world far back in the Great Smokey Mountains. I hated to see it end, and I’m thrilled to give Hazel Creek my highest recommendation.”
– Miralee Ferrell, author of Love Finds You in Sundance, WY