The Moonshiner’s Daughter

Written by Donna Everhart
Review by Hilary Daninhirsch

It is 1960, and Jessie Sasser has inherited a legacy that she does not want: she comes from a long line of moonshiners. In her mountain town in the backwoods of North Carolina, her father works a respectable day job, but most of the family’s income comes from their illegal moonshining activity. There are other moonshiners in the area, several of whom will stop at nothing, including violence, to eliminate their competitors.

An awkward teenager, Jessie has only one friend, Aubrey, and even that friendship becomes precarious when Aubrey takes up with the son of the meanest family in town. When Jessie confesses to her friend that she is considering turning her family in to the revenuers, she will face unimaginable consequences.

A secondary storyline deals with Jessie’s eating disorder, which she develops in response to the stress of trying to take care of her family after her mother died years earlier, her mean uncle and aunt, who are constantly trying to shake down her father for money, and the disdain she feels over her family’s moonshining operation.

The book is highly engaging and fast-paced with well-drawn out characters. Though the setting is the early 1960s, it might as well be the turn-of-the-century, as the modern world has barely reached this part of the world; the glimpse into this landscape and the moonshining underground is equal parts eye-opening and fascinating. Everhart handles Jessie’s eating disorder with grace and compassion. The book also explores family loyalty and legacy. There’s a lot to digest, and all of it makes for a compelling reading experience.