Thanks for Stopping By!

WELCOME! I'm so happy you came to check out my little corner of the world! If you're not already a follower I hope you choose to follow Real Housewife of Maine as I have a lot of fun projects, recipes, and book reviews on the way! If you're already a follower, welcome back!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review Friday: A Grown Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

My literary tour of the South continues this week with Joshilyn Jackson's latest, A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. Maybe it's just that we're in what feels like the longest, coldest time of the year here that's making me want to escape south of the Mason-Dixon line?

I read Jackson's Gods in Alabama a few years ago and really enjoyed it, and I'd heard good things about this book, so I was excited to read it. And I wasn't disappointed. A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is the story of three generations of Slocumb women -- Ginny, a matriarch at the age of 45, her daughter Liza, a beautiful, wild and troubled 30-year-old, and Liza's daughter, Mosey, who just turned 15. Ginny believes that trouble comes to the Slocumb women every 15 years, and her theory is proven correct when Liza suffers a stroke at the school picnic, and a tiny skeleton surfaces in her backyard when the willow tree is cut down.

Like the gnarled roots of the willow tree, Jackson weaves a complex story, equal parts mystery and family saga. Each woman tells her own story -- Ginny, and her desire to protect and heal her family while also finding love of her own; Liza, with a brain addled by the effects of a lifetime of drug use and the stoke, struggling to recapture her memories and communicate the truth to her mother and daughter; and Mosey, fighting the current of expectation from her mother, grandmother, and the small Mississippi town that had already labeled her as trouble before she even started kindergarten -- and trying to discover her true identity.

Jackson is a master of characterization, and she created three separate, but familiar, characters, that are familiar but not cliched -- and I loved them all. Despite the fact that their Baptist belt neighbors had dismissed the Slocumb women as whores, not worthy of kindness or forgiveness, Ginny, Liza, and Mosey actually demonstrate the Christian values of forgiveness, love, charity, and kindness more than anyone else. Some of their actions may fall within legal gray areas, but also beg the question of when is it okay to do wrong in the name of the greater good -- and when are appearances deceiving?

Jackson is a master of the clever turn of phrase, and some of her expressions and descriptions were laugh out loud funny. My only quibble with the book is with Mosey's chapters, which are heavy on teen slang and text-speak. While important for establishing character, I found it a little annoying at times -- maybe I'm just showing my age? At the same time, I found myself most engaged with Mosey's sections of the story, perhaps because they were the most action-oriented and revealed the most about the mystery of the skeleton in the yard and Mosey and Liza's backstory.

Minor quibbles aside, though, I loved this book and highly recommend it. Ginny, Liza, and Mosey will stay with you long after you finish the final page . . .I was actually sad to see it end.

No comments:

Post a Comment