Book Review of: A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 25, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Southern
Joshilyn Jackson hit the ball out of the freakin park with A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty! Told in alternating voices of Big (Genny Slocum); her daughter, (Little) Liza Slocum; and the granddaughter, Mosey Willow Jane Grace Slocum. If you have ever lived in the South, or know a true Southerner, then you will have heard many a time the southerner calling a loved-one’s full given name, especially if that loved one is in a heap of trouble! I was laughing so hard and in a flash crying as well, at the descriptive antics of all involved, and knowing full well that in a small southern town, finding tiny bones in your backyard can never be a discreet, quiet event.
Big has decided to put in a pool to help her daughter, Liza, with the rehabilitation from a stroke four months prior. In order to put the pool in, Liza’s beloved willow tree must go. Mosey knows that no matter how gone her mother’s brain may be, removing the willow tree may very well destroy Liza…so on the day the tree is set to be cut down, Mosey hides with her best friend Roger (Raymond) in the backyard tree house. From the moment the tree is cut down and the stump yanked out, life becomes a plethora of secrets revealed and kept and lives forever changed.
I listened to the audio version narrated by Ms. Jackson, herself, and her background in theater was incredibly apparent. From Mosey’s higher-pitched teenage voice to Liza’s guttural noises as a result of the stroke and finally to Big’s no-nonsense, go-getter tones, the individuality of each character shone through…..Not to mention all of the side characters who each had their own voice! That Ms. Jackson narrated A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty made the book that much more divine – she knew where the inflections should be, the pauses, how the vowel-like noises from Liza should actually sound and oh my, how she made these characters come alive ~ both through her writing and with her narration.
Ms. Jackson has a talent for exposing the underbelly of the fringes of society, then carefully stitching the pieces all back together with such a fine, yet strong, thread that you know if these characters can survive this (whatever this may happen to be) then they can survive anything.
For lovers of great southern literature, mother’s and daughters, family devotion and anyone who enjoys a romping good (read) audio!
In a Word: Delicious!