Anytime Joshilyn Jackson releases a new novel, it’s a big day for me. A big day that comes at the end of months of impatient waiting, as I’ve read her accounts of writing the book on her wonderful blog, Faster than Kudzu, then counted down along with her and her many fans to the release date. Each of her four previous novels — gods in Alabama; Between, Georgia; The Girl Who Stopped Swimming; and Backseat Saints have been among my favourites, and I knew A Grownup Kind of Pretty was not going to be a letdown. I wish I could lock Joshilyn Jackson in a room and somehow force her to churn out books at a rate of about one a month, because I could definitely devour them on that kind of schedule. But I recognize that Art Takes Time, and every month spent waiting for one of her new releases is time well spent.
Ginny Slocumb is 45. Her daughter Liza is 30. Liza’s daughter Mosey is 15. Having babies at 15 seems to be a pattern for the Slocumb women, so it’s no wonder that Ginny and Liza (who call each other “Big” and “Little”) are worried about Mosey this year. Mosey seems to be a remarkably sensible teenager, but they can’t help worrying. And that’s far from the only thing they have to worry about, what with the stroke Liza’s struggling to recover from, and the box that got dug up in their backyard when Ginny tried to put in a pool — a box that contains tiny human bones.
Along with the bones, secrets from the past are unearthed, and it’s gripping and inspiring to see how these three strong Southern women — so different, yet so deeply connected to each other — grapple with the revelations. Each of the three Slocumb women has a voice in narrating the story, and each voice is strong and absolutely unique. Joshilyn Jackson has such a strong sense of voice as a writer that her characters’ words echo in your head long after the book is closed. This was another can’t-put-down book, and another one that I can almost predict now will be on my Top Ten list at the end of the year.