Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Jamie Takes On Backseat Saints

I'm doing a giveaway of Backseat Saints on my personal book blog-- The Perpetual Page-Turner!

Title/Author: Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Publisher/Year: Grand Central Publishing 2010
How I got this book: GCPeditor sent it to me!
Why I read this book: She said it was one of her favorite reads this summer so I had to read it!
Rating: I kept vacillating between 3.5 stars and 4. I'll just say a solid 4.

Whenever I encounter a book about a tough subject, such as abuse, mental illness, drugs, suicide, etc., I am always nervous to see how the author portrays it. I wonder if they add humor or other devices to soften the dark subject matter? Is it explicit in detail? But more importantly, for me, I always wonder if it is an accurate and honest portrayal of the subject. I can handle alot when it comes to books. I'm don't stray away from hard subject matters. I do, however, dislike when I feel that the portrayal of something so serious is not handled with utmost care and delicacy. I want it to be real and honest.

That being said, I was nervous when I saw that this book was about a wife who is abused. Ro Grandee/Rose Mae Lolley is a woman who has endured abuse by her dad as a child (after her mom left and didn't take her) and ran away after high school only to move along the string of abusive boyfriends and finally into the arms of her husband who also likes to beat her. She's trapped--in her marriage and within herself. Her "new" self--Ro Grandee, wife of Thom, tries to repress Rose Mae Lolley--her younger, rebellious self. She lets herself slide in the routine of being a battered wife and doesn't think she can escape until the day she has a chance meeting with a gypsy fortune teller who reveals that her husband is going to kill her. She then has to decide--will it be him or her that prevails?

I feel like the author deals with the subject with care and presents a realistic view on every aspect of domestic abuse. I've never experienced abuse before but I know others who have. I think she touched on the cycle of abuse, abandonment, and the abuse itself in an honest manner. It wasn't extremely explicit and it was easy to handle because of the quirky nature and humor of the main character. She was an unpredictable, Southern girl who decided it was time to make a change. The journey is pretty exciting and you find yourself rooting for her in the end even though sometimes you just want to shake her. She encounters some of her past and I thought the author did a really good job of portraying the realities of forgiveness for those who have hurt you in the past. Redemption was a strong theme in this book and I thought these acts were touching. I think the cover embodies the characters journey so well. You'll see what I mean when you read the book.

I have to say that sometimes I got distracted by the whole Ro/Rose/Ivy (I haven't even touched on that) thing. I felt like she had split personalities sometimes and sometimes it just irritated me to no end. I just wanted her to make up her darn mind as to who she was. I thought about it for a while and realized that, although it was irritating in the book, I can be like that. I can be unsure of who I am. I feel like there are parts of myself that are just trying to get out. Maybe not as much as her but I guess I get it. It just honestly was something that I grew weary of while reading the book. I did feel that all three facets of this woman were very real. Anyone with a hard past knows how you still have that person lingering inside you, then you have your present self, and then you have that faraway person you have the potential to be.

A few vagrant yet valid thoughts about this book:

1. I hear that her other book Gods in Alabama is related to this story. I think Rose Mae is a minor character in it? I'm not all that sure but I think you are supposed to read that one first although it isn't necessary by any means.

2. It got me thinking about alot of things-- about protecting yourself and the ones you love. I don't want to give anything away about the twist of an ending but there are questions that will surface while reading this--what is ok when it comes to protecting yourself or others? Is murder a viable option? Ialso thought alot about the plight of women like her. How can you stay? Why can't you just get help and get out? I think it is easy to judge when you aren't in the situation and wonder why someone could deal with that but I think this book gives you a perspective on those questions.

3. *Kind of a spoiler although it is on the Goodreads description** The only thing I found unrealistic was how she found her mom. I felt like I didn't make that connection at all and it was really rushed. I had to go back to that part and still couldn't figure out how she made that connection. I think that them finding each other again just didn't seem like it was plausible but that could just be me.

All in all, a good read. You won't be disappointed if you like a good Southern fiction novel dealing with real issues. I have to admit that it isn't generally a book I would pick up but I'm glad I did. It was quite the ride. If you are someone who can't handle books about this topic, I'd say give it a try because I thought it was done pretty well and isn't explicitly disturbing.

Hello to everyone from Radiant Reviews at Chrissie's Corner!


  1. Great review! This isn't a book I would normally read either, but your review makes me think maybe I should anyway!

  2. Hi,I'm from RR. Nice review! I've been wanting to read this book in a while.And I think I've entered the giveaway just now. Never thought it was yours!

  3. Darlyn-- Haha yeah. I have a personal book blog I do in addition to this one.

  4. Hi Jamie, great to 'see' you at Radiant Reviews again :)

    I haven't heard of this book before but it sounds like a very powerful and thought-provoking read. I might have to look into this one a bit more.

    If you like reading about tough subjects, have you read Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma? It has all sorts of tough subjects going on - neglect, sibling incest and some other stuff too which I can't mention as it would give away the ending. But it is done in such a way that you are instantly pulled into the story and really feel for the two kids involved. If you are interested, my review is here:

    Anyway, sorry for going off an a tangent there! I really enjoyed reading your review :)

  5. I'm slowly but surely making my R.R. rounds today and first I thank you for coming by my review this morning. I'm glad you did.
    Your review is very informative and thoughtful. Overall, I can tell this book is quite thought-provoking. I haven't really read this type of book before but with your review I'll be considering it now.
    Have an excellent day!

  6. I think the cover is really interesting. It looks like she is holding a braid that was cut off?

  7. I read God in Alabama and it was a great book. It's fuzzy in my mind now and I don't remember the characters names, just two or three girls that were related and one left after an incident and the other stayed behind. I've moved since I read it and it's probably still in a box. Your review was excellent. I'll have to check this one out at the library. I've gotten away from adult books. Heather


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