Fiction Review: Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar is the first book I’ve read by Carol Guthrie Heilman, but it won’t be the last. It’s quirky and fun, but there’s heart to it, too.

Agnes Hopper is a widow, who, after several years of living on the farm after her husband’s death, is consigned by her daughter to a retirement home. The first day is enough to tell Agnes something is desperately wrong—and it isn’t only the residents. Agnes resolves that day to leave that place as soon as possible.

The residence home’s rulebook must be never-ending, since Agnes, after only a couple of weeks, has racked up quite a rap sheet of offenses.

Agnes’s high school best friend and roommate, Pearl, doesn’t even remember her. But Pearl has enough presence of mind to hoard Nyquil so she can sleep at night.

Some of the residents are hilarious, while others are very fragile mentally and physically.

Agnes makes friends and tries to help. When a woman named Alice is on her deathbed, some of the problems begin to come to light.

You will love Agnes. She is a gutsy lady who “consults” with her late husband much as she did when he was alive. She pursues right and truth and allies with some unlikely characters to find out what is going on in Sweetbriar’s residence home. She even gets into trouble with the law.

Author Carol Guthrie Heilman paints delightful characters that are fresh and fun. The writing is very good, and I enjoyed the developments. This is Christian fiction, and it refers to the Lord, prayer, and church. Beyond that, the Christian factor stays in the background. The book is clean, fun, and poignant.

I would sincerely have enjoyed it more if I weren’t getting to the age that I understand too well how Agnes feels.

There are some references to bodily functions. (It is a home for the elderly, after all.) Also, one person appears naked—not described, and she is unwell. There’s some alcohol and drug abuse, and one character is a single mother. I personally would recommend it for adult readers only, though the book is clean. The subject matter and setting don’t seem appropriate for teens.

I look forward to reading more Agnes Hopper books. Delightful.