Published by: Grand Central Publishing
Published on: January 25, 2012
Page Count: 288
Genre: Adult Fiction
My Reading Format: Advanced Reading Copy in PDF from NetGalley
Available Formats: Hardcover, Amazon Kindle
Joshilyn Jackson's fifth novel, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, like her other books, has a Southern setting. This time it's South Mississippi and more of the complicated small-town social structure and the kinds of hushed-up family secrets we've come to expect from Jackson. Challenges come around every 15 years for Ginny "Big" Slocumb, her daughter Liza and Liza's daughter Mosey. This time Liza has had a stroke and is unable to communicate to her family and investigators why the bones of a baby are buried in their backyard. The digging up of the skeleton means a exposing all kinds of things from the Slocumb women's pasts. They have to face what has been hidden for years and sort it out in a way that makes sense as they establish a new normal for their lives.
Jackson is excellent at twisting the plot around so her readers keep guessing. Her quirky characters are modern but reminiscent of Faulkner or O'Connor with their complexity, and the way their lives are intertwined with those in their families and in the communities around them. The story is told through each of the three Slocumbs' voices: a grandmother trying to hold the family together and keep her own sanity, a stroke victim whose mind is clear but whose speech is garbled, and a teenager who does much of her communicating through texts from her cell phone or with her best friend, but has lots going on inside her head. Having the voice of each of these characters is integral to giving readers perspective from three different angles to paint the whole picture.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good characterization, Southern fiction and Southern sayings (the novel is full of them). One of my favorite Faulkner quotes certainly relates well to A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty: "The past is never dead. It's not even past."