Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review: Backseat Saints

My Synopsis:

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson

(For review from Hachette Book Group)

Rose Mae's life hasn't been easy. Her mother abandoned her at 8 years old to a drunken father who used his fists to teach her about life. All the men in Rose Mae's life have had a penchant for violence, from her first love to her husband, Thom. As Rose Mae ran from Fruition, Alabama, she transformed herself into someone else. When she married Thom, she became Ro Grandee, a young woman who tries desperately to hide the bruises and scars of her violent life.

When she unexpectedly meets a gypsy in the airport, Ro Grandee learns a hard lesson about her future. The tarot reading she receives lets Ro know that she can't keep Rose Mae Lolly down forever. It's either Rose or Thom! They both cannot survive this relationship. Rose knows what she has to do. But will she be able to do it? With Fat Gretal at her side, Rose Mae goes back to Fruition in search of help, what she finds is an ailing father and more questions than answers about her mother and her reasons for leaving. Will Rose Mae be able to get away from Thom before it's too late? How is the airport gypsy a part of Ro's life? Can a new hair cut and a new name be the answers her heart is looking for?

My Thoughts:

This was my first experience with Joshilyn Jackson. I had heard of gods of Alabama before, but had never had the opportunity to read any of her books.

Jackson has a way of creating unique characters. This book is full of them. Rose Mae/Ro is a character that has had to face a lot of adversity, from her mother's disappearance from her life to her tumultuous relationship with her husband. She is both a strong and weak character. Strong in the fact that she was able to withstand this type of life and weak because she was unable to leave for so long. Rose Mae's character is almost one of a split personality. Rose Mae being the opposite of Ro. One almost enjoying the pain believing she deserves it and the other so desperate for acceptance and love that shes willing to take it.

Domestic violence is a pretty heavy subject for a novel, but Jackson pulls it off with style. The reader is on the edge of their seat as Rose Mae hides on Wildcat Bluff. They are with her as she flees the Gun shop in the Buick. They watch as she staggers down the stairs and practically into Thom's waiting arms at the end of the novel. The theme of making up for mistakes you've made and finding forgiveness also permeates the book as we see Rose's relationship with her parents. Rose Mae's father and his apology letter, all the way to Rose Mae's mother's great sacrifice for her daughter.

Backseat Saints is available now from your favorite bookseller!

This was an excellent book and I give this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Here is some more information about Joshilyn Jackson, the author of Backseat Saints.

Joshilyn Jackson was born by the sugar white beaches of Florida’s Redneck Riviera and raised by a tribe of wild fundamentalists who taught her to be virtuous and upright. Unfortunately, it didn't take, and Ms. Jackson dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor. She worked in regional repertoire, wrote plays, and traveled the southern third of the country with a dinner theatre troupe.

She decided both virtue and an education were worth the work, so she went back to college to study English literature, focusing on Modern and Medieval Theater. She graduated with honors from Georgia State. She fell for the hometown guy who’d been her best friend since she was a teenager and followed him north, braving Chicago’s winters to marry him. She recovered from a near-terminal case of culture shock in time to earn her MA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Jackson spent seven years in as a southern ex-pat in Illinois, working with various theatre groups as an actor and playwright and selling short fiction to literary magazines and anthologies such as Calyx and TriQuarterly. She also taught English at UIC, trying to explain the function of the gerund and why Waiting for Godot is a great play to crowds of hung-over 18 year olds. In her first year of teaching, she won the Student's Choice Award for Best English Instructor.

Motherhood made her homesick, and in 1998 she moved back to the South to teach part time, raise kids full time, and try her hand at writing novels in her copious spare time (read: every day from 4 am ‘til the baby woke up.) She’s been a full time novelist since gods in Alabama sold at auction in 2005, but Jackson’s teaching experience and theatre background have both come in handy. She’s been on faculty of writing workshops all over the country and enjoys speaking at book festivals, libraries and literary events. She reads the audio versions of her novels, and her work in this field has been nominated for the Audie Award, was selected by AudioFile Magazine for their best of the year list, and garnered a Listen Up Award from Publisher’s Weekly.

She currently lives outside of Atlanta with her husband Scott and their two kids, Sam and Maisy Jane. They share space with Bagel the hound dog, Boggart Cat, and a twenty-three-pound, one-eyed Maine Coon cat named Franz Schubert. Their outsize aquarium has, over the years, hosted a pair of brother gerbils who turned out to be an incestuous brother-sister baby factory, tadpoles who turned out to be mosquito larvae, more tadpoles who turned out to be newt larvae, caterpillars who turned out to be verminous hairy tent worms, and an egg sack that recently hatched out several zillion cannibalizing mantises who are now living in the back garden. This crew is often supplemented by stray beasts of all stripes seeking permanent homes.

Jackson is hard at work on a multi-voiced tale of stolen identities called The Other Mosey Slocumb.


Jackie said...

I have an award for you here:


jackie b central texas

Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

oh, I think I will have to pick this one up. It sounds like a heavy book but a very good read. Great review! Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Athira said...

This one sounds pretty fascinating! I have to look for it. Good review!

Mystica said...

Lovely review and thanks for highlighting this book and author (both new to me)

Llehn said...

One of the things that intrigue me as a reader is unique characters. They have to not come out of a cookie cutter or they'll lose my attention.