FAYE DASEN: Southern Novel Recalls Life in the 1970s
These novels offer a mixed bag of tricks for readers -- lighthearted fun in some books and dark moments in the others.
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
By Susan Gregg Gilmore
Shay Areheart Books, 2008, $23
In this novel, set in the 1970s, readers meet some of the residents of Ringgold, Ga. We meet Catherine Grace Cline, the preacher's daughter. She and her younger sister live with their father, their mother having drowned some years earlier.
Eating Dilly Bars at the Dairy Queen is about all there is to do in Ringgold, and Catherine Grace makes tracks just as soon as possible.
Even so, Ringgold is still home. As Catherine Grace tells the story of her life -- both the good and the bad -- you can't help but fall in love with her and all of the characters in the book.
If this debut novel is any indication, Gilmore has a future in the Southern genre. She currently lives in Nashville, Tenn., and has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor and other papers.
By Jack O'Connell
Algonquin, 2008, $24.95
This well-written novel offers a story that's definitely unusual, if a little on the dark side.
Full of complex plot lines, "The Resurrectionist" has plenty of twists and turns. In fact, I sometimes felt confused.
Sweeney brings his son, Danny, who has been in a coma for a long time, to the Peck Clinic in hopes that Danny will be "resurrected." Sweeney takes a job as a pharmacist at the clinic in order to afford the treatments.
Readers keep going to Limbo, a sort of cartoon world, where Danny seems to live. Limbo has some really outlandish characters, whom we see as Sweeney tries to lead his son back.
This is not a typical mystery or thriller, but does have some elements of the genre.
By Hillary Jordan
Algonquin, 2008, $21.95
Jordan's novel, which won the Bellwether Prize, is told from several perspectives.
Laura, who has always been a city dweller, marries Henry when she is in her early 30s. He dreams of owning a farm and brings Laura and their two daughters to a house that is too small and about to fall down -- and then his demanding father, Pap, is living with them as well.
Jamie, Henry's younger brother, who has just returned from the war, offers another viewpoint, and we also get the take of Ronsel, an African-American war hero, who has also just come home.
What happens when all of these people come together makes for a wonderful book.
My Enemy's Cradle
By Sara Young
Harcourt, 2008, $24
Cyrla, posing as her cousin, Anneke, finds herself in The Lebensborn, a maternity home for girls carrying the babies of German soldiers. This novel is based in fact, one that I was unaware of.
Sara Young tells an interesting tale of one of the most tragic aspects of World War II.
Contact Faye Dasen at 693-2475 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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