Book Review: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

April 21, 2010 Book Review, reviews 4

Book Review: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy QueenLooking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Published by Broadway Books on June 9th, 2009
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 304
Source: purchased

Sometimes you have to return to the place where you began, to arrive at the place where you belong.

It’s the early 1970s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia, has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. The daughter of Ringgold’s third-generation Baptist preacher, Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying to escape her small-town life.

Every Saturday afternoon, she sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to the big city of Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a reality, Catherine Grace immediately packs her bags, leaving her family and the boy she loves to claim the life she’s always imagined. But before things have even begun to get off the ground in Atlanta, tragedy brings her back home. As a series of extraordinary events alters her perspective–and sweeping changes come to Ringgold itself–Catherine Grace begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began.

There are 3 things guaranteed to happen if you happen to visit the South, Georgia specifically, during just about any weekend inthe Fall.

  1. On Saturdays we will be crowded into Sanford Stadium, home of the University of Georgia Bulldogs or Bobby Dodd Stadium, home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets…..and I only mention the Yellow Jackets because I’m sure y’all know we just simply will not all fit into one football stadium!
  2. On Sundays we can be found at either the Baptist, Methodist or Presbyterian Church if it’s a small town. Big cities will have the Catholic Churches.
  3. No matter what is wrong, it cannot be so bad that food will not either fix the problem or at least help. And it cannot be just any food. Nope, it has to either be deep fried in enough grease to kill a chicken or swimming in enough sugar that the tea is syrup!

My Summary: Looking for Salvation... had all this and more. Catherine Grace grew up under her Daddy’s watchful eye as her mother died in a drowning accident when she was only 6 years old and her sister, Martha Ann was 4.  Her daddy was the preacher, grandson to the founder of the only church in Ringgold, Georgia. Reverend Cline was a charismatic man & preacher whom everyone in the town adored. Reverend Cline knew from the time Catherine Grace was little that she wanted out of Ringgold.  He did not discourage Catherine Grace from her dream of getting out of their small town, nor did he prevent her from encouraging Martha Ann in sharing the dream while sitting on the picnic table outside the Dairy Queen. On one side of Reverend Cline and his girls lived Ruthie Ann who had perfect parents and a perfect life and acted like a perfect girly girl while on the other side lived Gloria Jean, divorced 5 times over and considered by most townspeople to be the town tramp.  Ruthie Ann was in Catherine Grace’s classes and an on-again/off-again friend of sorts. Gloria Jean was Catherine Grace and Martha Ann’s mama’s best friend and became the girl’s surrogate mother after their own mama’s accident.  Gloria Jean filled in answering all types of female questions and sharing tips on everything from nail polish to how to make strawberry jam. It was with the money making strawberry jam over several summers that Catherine Grace was able to save up enough to finally get out of Ringgold and off to the big city of Atlanta. Fantabulous Quotes:

Truth be told, I never even liked the name Ringgold. I mean, there’s nothing in these green rolling hills that even faintly resembles a ring of gold, a ring of anything for that matter…..the best I could figure was that it was just these darn hills that I had stared at every morning  from my bedroom window that formed the ring, the ring that had kept me hostage for the first eighteen years of my life. ~Catherine Grace p.5

“Listen,” Gloria Jean said, drawing my attention back to her, “some girls don’t have the courage to be who they are truly meant to be. But you and me and your mama, we’re just braver than most other folks, and don’t you forget it.” p. 95

She told everyone in town that she had been married twice and widowed twice. She said that Atlanta society preferred to think that she had known the love of a man only within the sacramental confines of matrimonial bliss. “Marriage would be wonderful, dear,” she reassured me, “if it weren’t so everyday.” Miss Mabie p.168

My Final Thoughts: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is a book about forgiveness in so many forms. Sitting in with a book club we could have a tremendous discussion about this book.  It’s also about relationships between a man and woman, a husband and wife, those we choose to love and those we choose not to love.  There’s many layers to Looking for Salvation… I so want to jump up and down and say lets talk about this, did you think about this aspect? how about that part of it? oh, and what about when….? I love it when a book makes me think, has me laughing out loud, crying in sections, and finally smiling at the end, yet still thinking about hours or even days afterward.  It’s a beauty of a book.

4 Responses to “Book Review: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen”

  1. Juju at Tales of

    Beautiful review. Sounds amazing. You're so right, books that make you think, laugh, and cry ROCK!

  1. Quotables: Clarity | The Novel LifeThe Novel Life

    […] Gregg Gilmore shares timeless truths through her coming-of-age novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen.  The young protagonist Catherine Grace kept me laughing and crying all in the same […]

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