Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Review -- Backseat Saints

Backseat SaintsBackseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Rose Mae Lolley has been abandoned, physically beaten and left for dead. Now, trying to save her soul and herself, she blasts out of her father in law’s gun shop prior to what would have been the final thrashing by her husband, Thom, to embark on a journey to reconnect with her past that includes ghosts from her hometown of Fruiton, Alabama and her alcoholic father. Her destination: her mother, who left Rose Mae at the age of 8. Along for the ride – Rose Mae’s dog, “fat Gretel” and a host of Catholic Saints who vividly take up residence in the back seat.

From the time you turn the first page of this book, you are immediately on board some kind of black-comedy, dysfunctional, NASCAR ride! As Rose Mae attempts to kill her husband, the author writes this brilliant, Abbott & Costello-worthy scene that has Rose rolling in bushes, while trying to take aim at her husband's head – and instead of shooting him, hits something far more valuable. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry or try to help her out.

The pace of the book is break-neck – there wasn’t a moment to catch my breath between Rose Mae’s beatings, her hospital stays, her “getaway” and her destination. My heart raced to the point I think I must have broken out in a sweat during some of the final scenes in this book.

The author has a vibrant, modern, quirky narrative style that just sucked me in from the first metaphor. To the point that I wondered, “why haven’t I read anything by her before?”

My only complaint about this book is the author often talked about “how long” Rose Mae had been away from her home town and how stuck in time her childhood home remained. In my mind, the story portrayed Rose Mae as much older than her barely 30 years – and her hometown a relic of the ‘50s not the ‘80s. Also, two characters from Rose Mae’s past are interwoven through Ro’s journey to safety, which I just didn’t quite get. Granted, Rose Mae is featured in one of the author’s previous books, “gods in Alabama” so it could be that not having read that, I was missing something, but their inclusion, seemed awkward.

But honestly, I loved this book! And the ending – wow – if there had been someone in my house listening to me, they would have heard an audible gasp when I got to that point. It was perfectly satisfying in every way.

For the sensitive reader: Graphic sex, domestic abuse and language.

Book source: Public library

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A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I just received this book in the mail yesterday- glad to see such a great review on it from you!

Julie P. said...

I just loved it too! Try some of her other books!!!

Just Mom said...

I just won this audiobook from another blogger - I can't wait to get it! Your review makes me even more excited!

Amused said...

Oh I am so intrigued to read this one! Looking forward to it someday now for sure!