A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the third of Joshilyn Jackson's novels that I have read, following "The Girl Who Stopped Swimming" and "Backseat Saints." Slipping into the world of Jackson's southern women is a little like spending time at Petticoat Junction, if everyone were appealingly disturbed and a whole lot more real.
In "A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty", 45 year old "Big" Slocumb knows it's going to be one of those years. She knows this because every fifteen years, her world goes tilt. When she was fifteen, she became pregnant with her daughter Liza, who she calls "Little". The chilly reaction of the Baptist congregation she grew up with gives her a lifelong attitude about them. She always likes there to be more humans than Baptists in a room.
Fifteen years later, Liza herself becomes pregnant--by a boy working the carny, or so she says--and then, shortly after giving birth to her own daughter, she takes off for parts unknown. Two years later, she returns home to Big, strung out and carrying her daughter Mosey Slocumb on her hip.
When Liza suffers a stroke during a lame luau at the Baptist (of course!) church, Big decides it is time to cut down Liza's beloved back yard willow tree--into which she has pressed her yearly recovery pins--in order to put in a swimming pool for Liza's rehab from the stroke. Little does she know the series of events this will set in motion when a tiny set of bones is found buried there.
I loved all three women who tell this story--Big, Liza and Mosey--and as usual with Jackson's characters, they become unforgettable. This author has a real knack for creating offbeat but believable scenarios that are as original as they are entertaining. Throw in side characters like Melissa, Liza's blond debutante druggie best friend, and Roger, Mosey's Spock-like brainiac (and lovestruck) nerd pal, as well as a cool mystery storyline, and this novel has it all. Five stars.
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