top of page

A Revolutionary and Groovy Read - an Editorial Review of "Cinnamon Girl"

Book Blurb:

When her beloved step-grandmother, a semi-retired opera singer, dies of cancer in 1970, 15-year-old Eli Burnes runs away with a draft-dodger, thinking she’s on the road to adventure and romance. What she finds instead is a world of underground Weathermen, Black Power revolutionaries, snitches and shoot-first police. Eventually Eli is rescued by her father, who turns out both more responsible and more revolutionary than she’d imagined. But when he gets in trouble with the law, she finds herself on the road again, searching for the allies who will help her learn how to save herself.

Book Buy Link:

Author Bio:

Trish MacEnulty grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and earned degrees from the University of Florida and Florida State University. For 20 years, she lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she was a Professor of English at Johnson & Wales University, teaching writing and film classes. She now lives in Florida with her husband, cat, and two dogs and teaches journalism. In addition to her historical novels, she has written novels, stories, plays, and a memoir under the name "Pat MacEnulty." She currently writes book reviews and features for The Historical Novel Review.

Check out her website for book club visits, reader guides for her historical fiction, upcoming events, book news and more:

Editorial Review:

Thanks to Mattie, my grandfather’s second wife, I spent my childhood as a small adult.

Mattie spirited me away from my alcoholic mother before I was two years old. The story Miz Johnny told me was that Carmella (my mother) was living in a two-bedroom trailer on the outskirts of town when Mattie stopped by one day to check up on me after my dad and my mom had split up. Mattie found my mother sprawled on the couch wearing high heels and a black slip with an empty Jack Daniels bottle tucked in the crook of her arm, and me trapped and crying in a playpen, wearing nothing but a dirty diaper.

Trish MacEnulty's "Cinnamon Girl" enthralls readers from the first, pulling them into the turbulent world of Eli Burnes. The beginning hooks the reader in with the sad story of a young child neglected, a family split up, and a tale of found family and how sometimes the ones who step up to care for us are not the ones we’d expect.

We’re pulled into the South, in the 1970s, as we learn about one young girl who is trying to make it although many cards were stacked against her in her earliest years. The style of the writing introduces us to the characters and the plot in a smooth, sometimes flowery way that I really enjoyed.

But on that Monday I went straight home to the two-story brick house with dormer windows and a large porch. The lawn was wild and weedy because Mattie didn’t care about such things. She said what happened inside a house was more important than how it looked on the outside. The screen door needed painting. One of the shutters on the living room window hung by one hinge. Miz Johnny did all she could to keep the spider webs off the porch, but otherwise the exterior of our house was left to its own devices.

"Cinnamon Girl" has an engrossing and complex plot that combines aspects of adventure, political turmoil, and psychological development. The story, which takes place in the 1970s, follows 15-year-old Eli as she makes her way through a dangerous and exciting new world. Her transformation from an impressionable youth to a self-aware and capable adult is convincing and captivating, drawing the reader into her narrative.

It's edited and formatted well, enhancing the writing and making it smooth and easy to read. You never feel pulled out of the story due to a spelling or grammar mistake and the formatting keeps it easy on the eyes. The novel's arrangement makes it simple to follow its intricate plot, and its meticulous attention to language and structure highlights the high caliber of the writing.

A remarkable feature of "Cinnamon Girl" is the richness of character growth, especially in Eli Burnes' case. I was hooked on her story and seeing where it was lead us and rooting for her all along the way. Eli's development is deftly depicted, enabling readers to see how she grows from a sheltered small child into a strong and self-aware adult. Each of the well-developed supporting characters gives the narrative a different perspective and advances Eli's development.

The novel maintains excellent continuity, with each event and character development logically flowing from one to the next. This consistency ensures you stay engaged and connected to the narrative, without any jarring breaks or inconsistencies. We are reminded that we are in the 70s, and Eli is a young girl exploring and finding her way in life.

You shouldn’t be smoking that shit with them,” he said to Lana.

I’m not forcing them,” she said in a flat voice. “It’s a free fucking country.”

Wolfgang was lanky like a scarecrow with thick, dark brown hair. He was seventeen years old, but he seemed older. He burned with a quiet fire that drew me. He went back into the apartment.

After we smoked the joint, Gretchen and I got giggly. We had never smoked pot before and we weren’t sure what to expect so probably were acting crazier than we felt. Lana stood up and warned us not to fall off the balcony before she slid open the glass door to the apartment and disappeared.

The ending of "Cinnamon Girl" is both satisfying and thought-provoking, offering a conclusion that resonates with the themes of the novel. Without revealing specifics, it can be said that the ending strikes a balance between resolution and open-endedness, leaving the reader reflective yet fulfilled.

"Cinnamon Girl" stands out for its unique perspective on a turbulent era. Through the eyes of a young girl, the novel explores themes of political activism, personal identity, and social change in a manner that is both fresh and insightful. It was definitely an enjoyable read, and to see things through Eli’s point of view is what made this story so unique and interesting.

MacEnulty's writing craft is evident in her ability to create vivid scenes, complex characters, and a compelling narrative. Her prose is both accessible and rich, with a balance of dialogue and description that keeps the story moving at a pleasing pace.

The story arc is well-constructed, with a clear beginning, middle, and end that are all equally engaging, keeping you engrossed to the end. The progression of the plot is natural and well-paced, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in Eli's world and experiences.

In "Cinnamon Girl," Trish MacEnulty has crafted a novel that is not only a captivating read but also a moving exploration of a significant historical period. Through the journey of Eli Burnes, we are taken on a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences, culminating in a deeply satisfying literary experience.


“Cinnamon Girl” by Trish MacEnulty receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



To have your historical novel editorially reviewed and/or enter the HFC Book of the Year contest, please visit


bottom of page