Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Sue Ellen Bridgers’ Sara Will is about the changes that love can bring to empty lives. Written in the third person, the novel explores how Sara Will, Fate, and Eva find meaning as they learn to care for one another. Sara Will Burney lives with her sister Swanee Hope Calhoun in an isolated mountain home on Sparrow Creek. Across the flooded valley is the grave of their sister Serena Burney Jessop. A middle-aged woman, Sara Will lives a self-contained, routine existence until Fate Jessop arrives with Eva, his sixteen-year-old niece, and her baby, Rachel.

Just as Fate, Eva, and her baby come unbidden into the Burney sisters’ lives, Eva had arrived a year earlier into her Uncle Fate’s life. Seven-months pregnant, she had fled her parents to an uncle she barely knew because her parents thought that she should give up her baby for adoption. Eva and the baby give Fate’s life purpose and love. When Eva’s friend Michael tracks down Eva because he wants to marry her, even though he is not the baby’s father, Fate flees with Eva and Rachel into Sara Will’s and Swanee’s hitherto uneventful lives.

Swanee welcomes the three strangers, but Sara Will only reluctantly permits them to stay. When Michael finds them, Eva rejects him. In spite of this dismissal, however, he stays with Sara Will, helping Fate make needed repairs to the neglected house. The presence of all these people in Sara Will’s home confuses her almost to a state of...

(The entire section is 525 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Sara Will is set in Tyler Mills, a small, agrarian community in the western mountains of North Carolina. The small town setting is...

(The entire section is 88 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Bridgers is a story-teller in the southern tradition. Each character has a distinguishing heritage, such as Uncle Fate losing the use of his...

(The entire section is 263 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The novel deals with one sensitive issue—an unwed, pregnant teenager who has run away from home and has been living with her older bachelor...

(The entire section is 71 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Sue Ellen Bridgers has chosen names for her characters that seem to be symbolic. Discuss the symbolism of these names: Sara Will, Swanee...

(The entire section is 92 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. This novel takes place in Tyler Mills, North Carolina. Does such a town exist? If not, what town or towns does Tyler Mills seem to be...

(The entire section is 110 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Another Bridger novel that has family and rural life at the core of the story is Permanent Connections. The main setting is a farm...

(The entire section is 145 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Bridgers, Sue Ellen. "My Life in Fiction." ALAN Review (Fall 1990): 2-5. Bridgers discusses various influences on her writing.


(The entire section is 246 words.)