Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson

I love Joshilyn Jackson. Let’s just get that out there.  Her books — Backseat Saints is her fourth — are fresh, funny, often dark, thought-provoking, and always infused with a strong, memorable voice.  I was hooked from the first sentence of her first novel, Gods in Alabama, and she never disappoints. (She also has one of the funniest blogs anywhere on the internet: Faster Than Kudzu).

Each of Jackson’s four novels is a stand-alone story, but Backseat Saints has some links to Gods in Alabama. In Gods, a woman named Rose Mae Lolley appears a couple of times, an obviously distraught character whose personal quest intersects at a few key points with that of the main character, Arlene.  Backseat Saints picks up Rose’s own story and explains just what that quest she was on was.

And it’s a doozy of a quest.  Rose Mae Lolley, now Ro Grandee, is the child of an abusive father and a mother who abandoned her, who has since found her way into an abusive marriage.  When a gypsy fortune-teller tells her she has to kill her husband before he kills her, Rose attempts to break free of the stifling life she’s trapped in — which inevitably involves returning to where she came from.

Jackson is a genius at pulling the reader in and keeping you on a short leash throughout the book, tearing along through an “un-put-down-able” storyline. But Backseat Saints is more than just a page turner.  Brilliant characterization — of Rose herself, and of every other character in the story, major or minor — makes Rose and everyone in her life blaze off the page.  Language and setting are powerful and evocative, and the book as a whole is unforgettable — I highly recommend it.



Filed under Fiction -- general

2 responses to “Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson

  1. I actually had an opportunity to meet Ms. Jackson- she came down to my campus to talk to NaNoWriMo participants. I should probably read one of her books…

  2. Lucky you … I’d love to meet her. Yes, definitely read one of her books!

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