About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#30: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, by Joshilyn Jackson New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012)

"Every fifteen years, trouble comes after the three Slocumb women. Now, as the youngest turns fifteen, she's desperate to know who used their yard as a makeshift cemetery, and why. The unlikely matriarch, forty-five-year-old Ginny, doesn't know the truth -- she only knows she must do everything in her power to keep it hidden. Between them is Liza, silenced by a stroke, haunted by the choices she made as a teenager, with the answers trapped inside her. To survive Liza's secrets and Mosey's insistent adventures, Ginny must learn to trust the love that braids the strands of their past -- and stop at nothing to defend their future.

"With riveting plot twists and off-kilter characters, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty introduces three generations of Slocumbs: a child on the cusp of womanhood searching for her true family; a woman whose fight to protect her daughter will toss her headlong into a second chance at first love; and a lost soul rediscovering her voice. New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson takes us on a wild ride from desperate mystery to a place of firm hope, providing once more that 'she knows how to grab a reader -- and not let go' (USA Today)."

Opening Line:
"My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard."

My Take:
Two chapters in, and weirdness aplenty has been established. Thirty years earlier, Ginny got pregnant at fourteen by a popular high school athlete who plied her with zombie punch, and used the hush money from his family to get away from the shameful gazes in her parents' small town and raise her daughter, Liza, on her own. Fifteen years later, Liza repeats her mother's mistake, disappears a few weeks after her still-unnamed daughter's birth, and returns two years later with a skinny toddler named Mosey who looks oddly unlike her mother and grandmother. Since Mosey's own fourteenth year, both Ginny and Liza have been a wreck, although Ginny desperately hopes that Liza's stroke will be all the bad luck the family's due for another fifteen years.

Then Ginny hires a local yokel to cut down Liza's beloved willow tree so she can put in a swimming pool, in hopes that this will aid Liza's recovery. He finds a silver box containing what Ginny can't help but recognize as the infant Mosey's clothing and toys, along with a tiny infant jawbone. The discovery sends Liza into an anguished rage, screaming words only Ginny and Mosey can decipher: "Umbay! Umbay! Geem, gee!" My baby! My baby! Give me, give!

I, for one, am intrigued.

(Next day) Well, I wasn't disappointed, and can't wait to track down some of Jackson's other novels if this one is any indication. It's not too much of a spoiler to say that both Mosey and Ginny (a/k/a Big) realize early on that the baby beneath the willow is probably Liza's child, in which case ... who the heck is Mosey? Neither knows that the other knows, and Mosey is by turns angry and terrified that Big won't want a thing to do with her once she learns she's not a blood relation. Did Liza steal someone else's baby? If so, does anyone know, and will they come to take Mosey back? And just who was the carney who allegedly fathered Liza's baby, anyway? a different kind of mystery than I'm used to -- less legal and police procedural, more family and relationship stuff -- but plenty of twists and intrigue to keep things interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment