Karin Cecile Davidson’s debut novel Sybelia Drive follows three childhood friends (and the people in their lives) as they come of age. Set against the Vietnam War, the novel explores personal as well as societal impacts.
The pacing is a bit on the slow side, but in a gentle, luxurious way. You can feel the muggy heat of Florida, the joy and freedom of childhood, but also the weight of heavy things on the minds of all the characters.
The chapters switch perspectives and hop around in time. This was an aspect I found more distracting than expected, because that’s something I normally love in a book. But I couldn’t tell which character I was reading right away, and that broke the flow for me. I wish the name of the character had been included with each chapter’s title, because it was frustrating to have to get my bearings so often, especially when I was already enjoying the writing itself.
Davidson is a lovely storyteller. The setting and the characters’ emotions come across so profoundly. (Alan’s mom’s perspective was especially moving.) If you enjoy thoughtful, unhurried coming of age stories, you won’t want to miss Sybelia Drive.