Friday, March 16, 2012

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty - Joshilyn Jackson (Audio)

Oh Ms. Jackson, how do I love thee?  Well, enough that I've listened to every book she has ever written.  Enough that I stalwartly refuse to accept free copies of the printed book, and will wait, darn it, for the audio to be released.  Enough that when I found out she was attending the UCF Book Festival at the end of this month, I had a litter of kittens.


Well, not really.  But you know what I mean.  There aren't many authors out there that have captured my mind and my heart like she has.  Her books reek of the South, in all its sweaty, kudzu-covered, bug-infested, laugh-to-keep-from-crying kind of glory.  But the thing that sets Joshilyn apart from the fray (bear with me if you have heard this from me a dozen times before) is that she strikes the perfect balance between the hopelessness of a situation, rich characters, and humor.  Damn this woman is funny, and has such a unique way with words.


No I'm not ready to talk about this book yet.  I have more to say.  I would never call Joshilyn formulaic.  But you can find certain things in each of her books.  There is always a mystery of some kind.  Secrets that need uncovering.  There are always Important Issues being addressed subtly in the story...being raised by someone who can neither hear nor talk, bi-racial relationships, teenage pregnancy, or abusive marriages.  And the women.  Praise the Lord, she creates some of the most dynamic, butt-kickin', lovable woman characters.  People, this is what keeps me coming back for more.  So.  "A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty".  


Synopsis:  The Slocum women are living under a curse.  Virginia (known as Big) was 15 when she gave birth to Liza.  Liza was 15 when she gave birth to Mosey.  Now Mosey is about to turn 15, and...well, you can figure it out.  Bad things happen every 15 years, so Big is determined to keep Mosey in a bubble, letting nary a boy breathe on her for fear of an unwanted pregnancy.  


Life hasn't been easy on any of these three women.  There have been no men in the picture for any length of time.  Big's parents turned their backs on the entire situation, because of all the scandal.  Liza spent years strung out on drugs, hitchhiking across the country with baby Mosey before she came home to get straight, and just recently Liza had a stroke that has rendered her nearly a vegetable.  To assist in Liza's rehabilitation, Big decides to install a backyard pool, and thus must uproot the old willow tree to make room.  Except when the tree comes out, they discover a little box with the bones of an infant inside.  


So where did they come from?  Everyone assumes that Liza has something to do with this, but she cannot answer for herself.  And if they do belong to Liza, then who is Mosey?  In the precious and unforgettable voices of all three women, the truth is slowly revealed.  


My thoughts:  Well, you already know what I'm going to say.  I loved this story to death.  For all the reasons that I've already talked about.  There is so much strength in the three generations of the Slocum women.  They have their issues but there is a fierceness of spirit and a loyalty to each other that is endearing.  Jackson pulls this off in her Jacksonish way by giving us the precious details that you don't always find in other Southern fiction.  The fact that even though Mosey is a virgin, she pees on pregnancy test sticks when she is stressed, just to be sure.  The fact that all of Liza's Narcotics Anonymous pins are lovingly stuck in the trunk of the willow tree.  The time that Big dragged Liza to the home of her ex-lover's wife to use their pool for therapy.  Jackson gets the quirkiness of the human condition.  


The mystery revealed in this story is not one that is all that difficult to figure out, but is never quite the point.  It is the journey of Big and Mosey in the discovery of that secret that's going to draw you in.  I will warn you, some of the details that unfurl are harsh and hard to read/hear, even sickening and shocking.  But there isn't any sugar-coating going on here, which I always respect with Jackson's work.  


Even though I love all of Jackson's books, this one ranks right up there with "Gods In Alabama" as my favorite.


A few words about the audio production:  The reason why I will only LISTEN to her books, and not read them?  Because she narrates them herself - not all authors can successfully pull that off.  She delivers her message exactly in the spirit in which it is intended, with her girlish Southern twang and good nature.  She is so adept at the business of narrating, in fact, she will soon be recording an audio book other than her own.  I think that is pretty special. 


5 out of 5 stars  


  

17 comments:

Jenny said...

I think it's awesome that she narrates her own books! I don't know if I'll have a chance to read this before the ucf thing but it sounds so good!!

Your comment about having a litter of kittens had me LOLing...

Anita said...

Reading now and your thoughts make me want to leave everything else to just read.

bermudaonion said...

You and I need to start a Joshilyn Jackson fan club! I loved this book too - I think it's my favorite of all of her books.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

In the panel she talked about how the cover got chosen and also how she got to read her own books. Great stories!

Meg said...

I'm so with you: I've listened to three Jackson books now and don't think I'll ever truly "read" one myself! I'm dying to get my paws on this one, but I want the audio... and the library doesn't have the audio yet. :( I will hold out hope that someday it will be procured, because Jackson is definitely a new favorite of mine! Glad you loved this one!

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I have this one on my wish list. I don't think I'm going to be able to hold out much longer, I really want to read it. Great review!

Ti said...

I didn't even have to read the synopsis. I want to give this one a listen just because you said so. You pulled my arm. Again!

Alyce said...

Out of all of her books that I have seen this is the one that appeals to me the most, just from the description alone.

Julie P. said...

Darn you! I'm so jealous. I'm still #2 at the library for this book and I've been waiting FOREVER....

Zibilee said...

I am listening to this one right now, and am totally addicted! I have to always find a reason to pop in the ear buds and do a little cleaning or laundry so that I can hear more of this story. You are right, it is amazing and impressive! Great review today! The enthusiasm just radiates from it!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This is the author you said was from Georgia right? I'll have to check it out.

Kathleen said...

This sounds like one I gotta read!

Carrie K. said...

I have this one on my computer ready for transfer to my MP3 player soon - can't wait!

Jenners said...

I agree -- her voice is perfectly suited for narrating her own books. I shall listen to this very soon. I love that you are going to get to see her in person.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

I love her! I am slowly working my way through her books, right now I am in the middle of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. After that I have to read Backseat Saints and this one. You totally got me started on her books, Sandy, and for that I thank you muchly. :)

softdrink said...

And the best thing is, she's just as funny in person!

samantha.1020 said...

I just recently finished this book and adored it as well. This is my 3rd book by this author and I'm eager to read everything else that she has written! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed this book as much as I did!