Sincerely, Cindy Baldwin

Getting Real | June 8, 2021

Dear Reader,

I grew up in North Carolina, a few hours from my grandparents’ house in the mountains. Throughout my childhood and teen years, my family spent many week- ends and holidays driving through the winding paths  of the Blue Ridge Mountains, piling into  guest rooms at my grandparents’ house, and wandering through the woods, apple orchards, and the old-fashioned city center of their Appalachian town.

Everything about those visits felt magical to me. As I grew older, that magic only intensified as my relationship with my grandma, for whom I was named, deepened. I’d spend long hours learning painting from Grandma Cindy, or crochet, or even the forgotten art of lace tat- ting. As the oldest grandkid and the one who bore her name, I knew my connection to Grandma Cindy was something extra special.

Grandma Cindy died when I was ten—the first real loss I experienced, and one that rocked me to my core. But more than two decades later, I still cherish the mem- ory of the time I spent with her.

Those memories were close to my heart as I worked on The Stars of Whistling Ridge. I poured into it everything that felt so magical to me about the Blue Ridge Moun- tains and the special kind of love that grows between young girls and their female kinfolk.

Also on my mind were the close-but-turbulent rela- tionships I had with my own five siblings, the joyful experiences I had homeschooling until  college,  and the vivid memories of the confusing anger that always seemed to simmer on my skin for no real reason when I was on the cusp of teenagerhood. These ingredients combined to create Ivy’s story—the story of a girl who’s often impetuous, sometimes selfish, but also deeply loyal to her family and friends, and determined to carve her- self a place in the world.

This book is my love letter to angry girls, big families, and the magic that weaves under the world—and to all those quiet afternoons spent side-by-side with Grandma Cindy. I hope that readers come to love Ivy and her fam- ily as much as I do!

Love,

Cindy Baldwin

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