Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Between, Georgia - Joshelyn Jackson (Audio)



After thoroughly enjoying the audios of Gods in Alabama and Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson, I'd about decided that Southern fiction begins and ends at her front door. So much atmosphere, so much of that thick, humid, bug-infested, kudzu-choked goodness in what she writes. Plus, she manages to make her stories a notch above what you would consider "light reading" by injecting serious topics behind her laugh-to-keep-from-crying humor.

So then my literary conscience, Rhapsody Jill, sends me an e-mail and goes "Pssst. Have you read Between, Georgia yet? 'Cause you must." Similar to my attitude with David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell, I decided awhile back the only way I will read Jackson is on audio. They are just that good. So my shoulders slumped, because I assumed that I had pillaged my library's shelves for all Jackson audios. But no! They actually had two more, this being one (The Girl Who Stopped Swimming being the other), and they were promptly grabbed and uploaded. The excitement!

Synopsis: Birthed by poor unwed teenager Hazel Crabtree, Nonny Fret was adopted and raised by Stacia Frett, an upper middle-class blind and deaf woman. The Fretts have always been a tight bunch. Stacia's twin Genny, who is generally nervous, and Aunt Bernese, a loud, abrasive bull in a china shop, have pulled together to make a good home for Nonny in the small town of Between, Georgia. Having been raised in a home where sign language was a way of life, Nonny has gone on to establish a successful career in ASL interpretation.

At thirty, however, Nonny's marriage has not been so successful, and the decades-long Crabtree-Fret feud has kicked into high gear. Boiling over to a Hatfield and McCoy-esque passion, we've got dead dogs, threatening injuries, slashed tires and threats of bringing in the delinquent Crabtrees from Alabama. Ironically symbolic of her predicament, Nonny must return to Between to try to calm tempers and also resolve her feelings for her maybe soon-to-be ex-husband.

My thoughts: While this story doesn't quite have the compelling plot of "Gods in Alabama", Jackson still makes good on everything we have grown to expect from her. Rich, quirky characters that all have such unique personality traits, I think I'd know them if I saw them on the street. There's cheatin', cussin', drinkin', and shootin'...proper pastimes for Southern folk born and raised on a certain side of the tracks. And in this novel, Jackson delves into the life of a woman that suffers from Usher's Syndrome, and without the benefit of sight or sound, raises a child and makes collectible dolls.

What I also love about Jackson's style is the way she portrays her female protagonists. They are good-hearted girls who have persevered, despite the odds. Real tough women, you know? But with a soft side, and generally a long list of frailties that they are more than willing to admit. You can't help but fall in love with them, despite the fact that they don't always make good choices.

A word about the audio production: What can I say? The audio is the ONLY WAY to experience Jackson's novels because she is the narrator, and she is phenomenal at it. She has a girlish, southern twang with some comedic timing that is delivered flawlessly. She birthed these words, after all.

4 out of 5 stars


13 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

Stop reading them all so quickly! I still have Joshilyn Jackson on my list from last time, but haven't managed to find a copy yet. One day!!

Zibilee said...

I have read other reviews of this one, and coupled with yours, I am sure that this is a book that I want to seek out. The ever-popular Gods in Alabama is the one I want to read first, and I did pick up a copy of Backseat Saints at SIBA, so soon I will have a little collection going, which is just par for the course when it comes to being a serial book-collector! Great review. I am glad that you liked this one!

bermudaonion said...

I love Jackson's books and have read all of them. Did you know she has a new book coming out in the fall? I think I need to hold out to experience it on audio.

Beth F said...

I loved this and her earlier books. I haven't yet read Backseat Saints, but I do have it on audio!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I should try listening to her next book. That sounds like it would be fun!

Martha@Hey, I want to read that said...

I have checked this book out from the library twice and never got around to reading it and I never knew why. I guess it's because I was meant to listen to it. Going to look for it right now.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

It's very rare that the author is the best narrator for the book, so I'm intrigued here....

Darlene said...

I really need to read one of her books! I've heard so many good things about them and I do have one on my shelf somewhere.

caite said...

did I mention that I recently successfully completed my first audio book? "completed" is the key word. Maybe one by this author would make a good second try.

Jenners said...

I think I'm sticking to Jackson on audio too. Next up for me is Gods of Alabama.

And I'm listening to Assassination Vacation now. After the initial shock of Sarah Vowell's voice and quirky phrasing, I fell in love. I already plan on Wordy Shipmates next! So thanks for the tip.

Iliana said...

I've only read Gods in Alabama which I thought had some great lines of dialogue. Definitely need to read more of her books!

Swapna said...

I've only ever read The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and I REALLY need to pick up some more of Joshilyn's books! Thanks for the review!

Melissa said...

I listened to The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and loved it. I have 2 or 3 others of hers in print, but I might go back to the audios instead!