You Will Love Littlebeth (born and bred in Paso) in Under the Ashes by Cindy Rankin

At General Store Paso, we geek out about lots of things. It’s useful when we’re choosing new goods for the store. The phrase “love me some linen!” has been whispered while perusing stacks of towels. We make a lot of ridiculous noises when we’re evaluating scents from one of our local bath and body makers for custom lotions and soaps. We get excited about Dill Pickle Peanuts from Lord Nut the way some people might get excited finding a $100 bill on the ground. (They are ridiculous.)

But if we had to choose the one thing that just gets us more excited than almost anything else, it would be picking books. We spend hours going through piles of new books and researching older books that we think people would enjoy. So it was with particular glee that we were told about this remarkable book by a local author that we couldn’t wait to bring in.

Local author Cindy Rankin’s Under the Ashes is theoretically for young readers, but it’s a superbly researched and compelling story that centers on a fierce young Paso Roblan named Littlebeth who would “rather race the boys, chase skunks, and read about bandits than act like a lady.”

Set just days before the great San Francisco earthquake, the book takes us on a journey that shows not only the inner strength and tenacity of the young heroine of the book, it also paints a vivid picture of the time. (And, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, there is a very sweet love story as well.) It’s a great read for all ages, especially read aloud. Cindy spent a lot of time at the Carnegie Library studying local history and reading newspapers on microfiche from the past. Inspired by a photo of a young man in a dog-pulled cart in the downtown park, as well as by the astounding self-confidence of her child Kate, Littlebeth came to be. We are so excited to add Under the Ashes to our book obsession at General Store!

Wondering what to get that young person or history buff for Valentine’s Day? Be like Littlebeth. Break with tradition. Skip the chocolate. Grab this book, and maybe some Dill Pickle Peanuts. : )

Happy Valentine’s Day, neighbors!

The team at General Store Paso Robles