Heroine: Caroline Carson – Optimistic, Brave
Hero: Isaiah Washington – Kind, Determined
In the Fields is a forbidden love story paved with pain, tragedy, loss, prejudice, and heartbreak. It’s 1971 and times have changed, but people are still being discriminated and ostracized for the color of their skin. They may be free but not truly accepted. I have much respect for Willow Aster for writing such a beautiful and genuine story. She has an incredible storytelling talent that will have you believing in her characters, all while tugging hard on your heart strings.
I’ll never understand the way this world works. Why can’t I love whoever I want to love and it not affect anyone but us? - Caroline
Caroline is fourteen, in high school, when this beautiful yet troubling tale begins. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is resentful of the life she’s been given; always thinking she deserved a better life. Because of that, she treats Caroline like her own mental punching bag instead of a daughter. Things only grow worse for Caroline when her father abandons them. Then her mother has an affair and leaves Caroline to fend for herself so she could be with her new lover. Caroline was forced to grow up years beyond her age. All she wanted was to have her parent’s love and affection and to have her family back. She is a brave and beautiful old soul with an unwavering and trusting heart. She loves big and she loves hard. And she loves her childhood friend, Isaiah, who is her rock, her confident, her soul-mate. But the cruel, racist world she lives in will never understand the love they feel for one another. ‘Love sees no color’ rings true to when I think of Caroline and Isaiah’s love story.
“I’m gonna make you laugh every day for as long as you let me” – Isaiah
Isaiah is a young man, fifteen years old, growing up in the same small town as Caroline. Caroline and Isaiah attend the same school but because they are not of the same skin color, they would be ridiculed and harassed if they’re seen together. So, they keep their feelings and friendship a secret from everyone. Raised by a single mother, Isaiah’s life has not been easy but he is a smart and kind young man with lots of determination. Like Caroline, he is also an old soul. Isaiah’s love for Caroline is true and unconditional. She is the only person who has ever seen past his skin color. Because of his feelings for Caroline, Isaiah would do anything to protect and save her from a life that could potentially make her unhappy, even if it means making gut-wrenching sacrifices.
All Caroline and Isaiah ever want is to be able love each other freely but a misguided society makes their lives complicated. This story is told over a span of time as Caroline and Isaiah go from young teenagers to young adults. You will feel everything as they experience love, loss, tragedy, remorse, abuse, hate, disappointments, and relentless heartbreak. Caroline is a strong and courageous heroine. She’s a survivor. But the life-changing events she must endure would have made me want to bail out of life. I didn’t just cry many times, I bawled like a baby until I was all dried up. This story hurts. The events leading up to the ending were not easy on the gut. But where there is dark, there is also light. I laughed and smiled many times during this story. And not only did I fall in love with Isaiah and Caroline, but there are many secondary characters that were just as loveable.
This complex love story snuck up on me with how incredible it is. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I fell instantly in love with In the Fields… because I didn’t. This story builds slowly as we get to know Caroline and Isaiah and the type of world they live in. But, once I got over the hump, I started to become emotionally invested in the character’s lives in this story. It was worth the slow beginning to get to the heart and soul of this book.
In the Fields took up residence in my heart and impacted my soul. Willow Aster gives us a realistic and honest story that broke my heart and then put it back together. It left me with a smiling heart at the end of this hard journey. I will never forget this unforgettable story.
Check out this excerpt for In the Fields by Willow Aster!
About the Author
Willow Aster is the author of True L̶o̶v̶e̶ Story and In the Fields, two standalone books published in 2013. When she's not writing, you can find her staring out into space, dreaming about new characters. She also enjoys sliding across the hardwood floor in her socks and twirling in the sand.
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