Book Reviews - Under the Magnolias & Pawleys Island: Seasons of Light

February 2021
Written By: 
Julie Flanagan
Photographs by: 
Tanya Ackerman & courtesy of the publisher

The latest book releases

Under the Magnolias 
By T.I. Lowe
Tyndale House Publishers, $26.99
Release Date: May 2021

Austin Foster's life changes in an instant when her mother passes away during childbirth on the family's Nolia Farms in the small town of Magnolia, South Carolina. Barely a teenager, Austin must quickly step up to help hold the family together. This includes raising her six younger siblings and making sure her father does not retreat into the darkness that has threatened to swallow him after his wife's death.

Despite the challenges she faces, Austin does her best to take care of her brothers and sister and keep the truth about her father's mental state concealed. She quickly learns that she isn't the only one with secrets. Magnolia is filled with colorful characters, outcasts, and others fighting tough battles. Learning to see past the exterior and lean into the friendships and kindnesses of these folks is one of Austin's greatest comforts. 

Another comfort is Vance Cumberland, the son of the local mayor, who was born into wealth and leads an entirely different existence from Austin. She knows there are consequences with falling in love with a boy like this while keeping her fragile family together. Will one choice crack open all the secrets?

Under the Magnolias is a beautifully told tale about loss, mental illness, connection and finding both yourself and your capacity to heal. 

Pawleys Island: Seasons of Light
By Tanya Ackerman
CLASS Publishing Division, $40
Release Date: 2020

Anyone who has ever spent even a day on Pawleys Island knows that it is a place that feels almost magical. It is a place that is hard to forget, filled with tranquility, peace and a quiet joy.

In the second book in her Chasing the Light series, photographer Tanya Ackerman explores Pawleys Island's beauty through its changing seasons. Pawleys Island: Seasons of Light features a section highlighting the special moments of each. "Fall" captures the shortening hours, crisp orange mornings and indigo evenings that culminate in stunning autumn sunsets. In "Winter," Pawleys glows as birds huddle together and crisp morning walks offer the rewards of nature.

"Spring" showcases vibrant skies, longer days and beach time in warmer weather. Finally, "Summer," arguably the most precious time on Pawleys, closes the book with salt water, stargazing and the peace after a summer storm. Each section is accompanied by simple, beautiful lines of text that bring even more depth to the already amazing experience of the photographs.

Since she moved to Pawleys Island to work as a staff photographer for the Coastal Observer in 2006, Ackerman has been named the South Carolina Press Association Photojournalist of the Year in the All Weekly Newspaper Division four times, most recently in 2019. One look through Seasons of Light and the expert capturing of Pawleys Island's many moods and you will understand why.

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