I enjoyed the first two-thirds of this book better than the end. Initially I was giving it five stars but it slipped down to four by the end since I had already figured out the big revelation by then and we were left — intentionally but annoyingly– with loose ends and unanswered questions. (Where was the gun? And don’t forget she had to have had the keys. And what about Babygirl’s parentage?) I wish the ending could have been more believable and buttoned up more satisfactorily.
Still, this coming of age story had interesting, well-defined characters. It was an effortless, quick read. The writing was well done, full of poetic insight, symbolism, and metaphor. The sultry south was rendered palpably, and clearly hurricanes and snakes are not as devastating as human complexity.
Here are a few bits:
“One man can argue better than a group of them. A group goes silent when a woman insists on something.”
“This made mother laugh. She laughed like you get a lawn mower started, just a couple of sputters at first, but then one of those sputters catches, fires up, and soon the motor is roaring. That was how mother got started laughing — Jewel Langmont too. It was like they went crazy laughing, couldn’t hardly breathe, gasping for air like a couple of fish, slapping their hands on the table top… It would be years before I understood the way laughing substituted for crying when women were being watched.”
“Maybe all the truth really was, was everybody agreeing on something, like saying it enough made it so.”
I heard about this book by reading a review of it in the Chinaberry catalog and bought it from them. See it at Chinaberry.com under “good adult reads.” It is by Nanci Kincaid, and I’ll eventually try others by her.
There was mystery and shrewdness and rich description in this perceptive book that leaves you still thinking about it.