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About The Book

In this sequel to Hazel Creek 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.

THIS CAPTIVATING STORY takes place in the Sugar Fork Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains wilderness during 1925–1926. Nate Randolph and his five unique daughters wrestle to survive after the death of Callie (his wife and their mother) as well as to maintain their farm, forests, family, and faith against an evil lumber company manager seeking to clear-cut their virgin woodland.

A cast of delightful characters, including gypsy siblings, Cherokee Indians, a granny midwife, a world-famous writer, and even a flesh-and-blood Haint, join our heroine, sixteen-year-old Abbie Randolph, in her life-and-death struggle. Abbie falls in love for the first time, helps run the farm, and mothers her independent sisters while battling to preserve her faith when senseless murders threaten to destroy her family and way of life.

Will the Randolph family survive intact? Will the farm be saved? Only a miracle could make it happen.

With the march of the industrial age, especially industrial lumbering, the roaring twenties, Prohibition, the increasing momentum for a national park, and the onslaught of a modern world, trains, and radio communication, the traditional life and ways of our Southern Highlanders were about to change forever.

Reading Group Guide


Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Which of the Randolph sisters did you most like? Which one did you most identify with? Why?
2. Abbie and her sisters seemed particularly close to their father. Why do you think that was?
3. Abbie and her sisters hated the damage the lumber company inflicted on their valley, yet they also seemed to enjoy some of the luxuries the company provided (such as community events, ice cream, a movie theater). How do you think they would explain this apparent contradiction?
4. Although the moonshine whiskey was “medicinal,” Nate seemed to know it was being used for illegal purposes. Even if what he did was “legal,” was it right, especially knowing that people were using the product illegally?
5. At several points in the book, the locals (Maddie and Granville Calhoun, to name two) argued that the Prohibition was either wrong or evil or both. Do you think their arguments were valid? If so, why? If not, why?
6. The characters had a variety of feelings about the impact a national park might have on their valley. If you lived there, at that time, how would you have felt? Would you have favored the formation of a national park, even if it meant losing your home?
7. Dr. Andrew Keller was the lumber-company doctor. Did the locals trust him or just tolerate him? Why or why not? Explain your view.
8. Why did Wade Chandler come to the area? What do you think he was seeking? Were his motives altruistic or more self-centered? What evidence would you give to support your view?
9. Lillian Frye took advantage of an almost unknown law to help the girls. She admitted she was not following the “spirit of the law,” but rather “the letter of the law.” Was she right to do this, or not? Why?
10. The Haint, Jeremiah Welch, practiced an ancient tradition called sin eating. Why did the pastor consider the practice “pagan”? With what biblical teaching(s) would this custom clash?
11. How important to Abbie was her spiritual faith? How many spiritual disciplines did Abbie practice? How did these disciplines aid her in both happy and sad times? What spiritual disciplines do you need to develop in your life? How will you do this?
12. Many difficult and bad things happened to Abbie and her sisters during this story. Does God cause bad things to happen? Does he allow bad things to happen? How can God use difficult experiences and circumstances in your life?

About The Author

Photograph by Don Jones

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.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Howard Books (October 2, 2012)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781439196854

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Raves and Reviews

"Walt Larimore can write! He weaves a tale that will take you into the coves of the Great Smokey Mountains and introduce you to the hearts of its noble people. Pull up a chair, pour a glass of iced tea, and relax with a story that will capture you."

– Ruth Graham, author of Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There

Sugar Fork takes a unique look back to a lost and almost forgotten era in the history of the industrial age of the southern Appalachian Mountains—a transitional period in the history of Western North Carolina. As the fictional characters of Sugar Fork interact with figures whose names grace the pages of both local and national history books these characters come alive. I am delighted with Sugar Fork!"

– Judy Andrews Carpenter, director of The Proctor Revival Organization

"The Randolph family could easily fall apart trying to survive in the Great Smoky Mountain wilderness. The captivating stories and colorful voices of these characters, their lives and struggles, will stay with you long after you reluctantly come to the end. A good old-fashioned novel."

– Julie L. Cannon, author of Twang

“Come hike with me through the virgin Smoky Mountain forest, along stream beds lush with trilliums, ferns, and orchids. Contrast this spectacular beauty with the simple life of an orphaned Southern Highlands maiden. See hope, faith, and love conquer hate and greed in a setting where good, simple folk wrestle evil in the bygone world of old Appalachia. Walt Larimore has done it once again in his powerful, heart-string, tugging page-turner, Sugar Fork.”

– Eric Wiggin, author of The Hannah's Island series, Bridge Over Coal Creek, and The Recluse

"This book has it all . . . romance, suspense, faith, family, and great historical detail. Continuing on from Hazel Creek, the first book in the series, Abbie Randolf faces many challenges as she cares for her motherless siblings.The research and detail in this series is wonderful and this book will appeal to all ages and types of readers."

– Dorothy Cowling, book reviewer, library director

"Set in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Walt Larimore has captured the spirit of the people of Sugar Fork. He takes us on a journey into the lives of the Randolph family, their friends, and the townspeople of Bryson City—a journey that readers will long remember!"

– Libby Kephart Hargrave

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