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Letting Go of Bobby James: Or How I Found My Self of Steam Hardcover – August 13, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (August 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374343845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374343842
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,881,384 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Sally Jo Walker, known as Jody, is a 16-year-old runaway bride of 13 weeks who finds herself on her own with $20 in her pocket and nowhere to go. If Bobby James hadn't hit her, she wouldn't be holed up in a gas-station bathroom. She uses the time to write a letter on paper towels to the corporate head of the Harris Teeter food-store chain with a suggestion on how to improve his inferior coleslaw. This literary device is a bit confusing, as Hobbs drops it early on and doesn't pick it up again until this improbable coming-of-age tale ends. The first-person exposition is frank and endearing, and Jody is apparently wiser than many people twice her age as she struggles to survive in a strange town. She is resourceful and likable and the novel is peopled with the downtrodden, both with hearts of gold and flint. The teen's determination makes the adults around her seem foolish and lost. Despite the title, Bobby James plays a minor role, and when he reappears on the scene readers may be hard-pressed to believe Jody is so susceptible to his questionable charm–yet it is then that she reacts as the average 16-year-old might. This story suffers from too many implausible events, but this feisty character has considerable appeal.–Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. Worlds away from The Au Pairs (see del la Cruz, on p.1831) is this story, related by 16-year-old Jody, who is abandoned in Florida by her young husband after he has punched her. With few prospects and less money, Jody manages to find a job at Thelma's Cafe and, over time, a family of sorts as well. There are familiar overtones--everything from Terrence McNally's play Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune to the old TV show Alice--and stock characters, including the waitress with a heart of gold and the runaway (pregnant) teen who frequents the diner. But what might have been only a retread comes sparklingly to life in Hobbs' hands. The first-person narrative, which deftly chronicles what can happen to a girl who takes a chance (including being a midwife in the bathroom of a movie theater during a tornado), also shines with Jody's simple, but never simplistic, insights. The framework of the novel (Jody writes all this to the head of a grocery store chain) doesn't really work, but almost everything else does--big time. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

What I've learned in all the years since I began writing is that each of us has at least one special story to tell. Some stories are sad, some funny, but all are as unique as our fingerprints. We are storytellers, every one of us. Some of us just have to write those stories down. I didn't always want to be a writer though. What I longed for most was to be an ice skater, but when I was fifteen I moved with my family from New Jersey to California and there went the ice.

My first short story began with a journal entry written when I was nineteen, after a close friend of mine met with a tragic accident. Many years later, that same story became the basis for my first novel, How Far Would You Have Gotten If I Hadn't Called You Back . Eight novels have followed, with three more to come in the next few years. Writing is the hardest work I've ever done, but by far the most fun.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sally Jo (Jody) Walker is a young woman from Purley, Texas who seems to enjoy coleslaw --- so much so that she has to share her own special recipe with everyone. This appears to be the main subject of her letter to a businessman named Mr. Teeter. But LETTING GO OF BOBBY JAMES isn't just a simple commentary on what the best recipe for coleslaw is or the fine convenience of food markets. It's the story of how a young woman's determination to make a better life for herself unwittingly changes the lives of those around her.

Jody is only sixteen when she marries a young man named Bobby James. They met at a school dance, and it seemed to be love at first sight. They are now on vacation in Florida and Jody doesn't think life can get any better than this. But Jody's perspective on life changes drastically when Bobby slaps her and she hides in the gas station restroom. It is at this point that Jody decides to create a new future for herself --- without her husband.

After taking a bus to Jackson Beach and spending the night in a parked car, Jody begins searching for a job. She is hired as a dishwasher at Thelma's Open 24-Hour Cafe and Grill and becomes friends with a waitress named Marilyn. The only thing left for Jody to do is to find somewhere to sleep. She decides that the best place is the local cineplex. The next day she goes to a thrift shop to buy some work supplies and witnesses the plight of a weary cashier, who seems to be in a worse situation than Jody.

Jody later finds out just how bad the situation is. The girl is named Effaline; she is pregnant, living in a shabby apartment complex, and is currently unemployed. The two teens quickly become friends and Jody returns to the cineplex for the night.
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By DAC VINE VOICE on March 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
16yr old Sally Jo (Jody) Walker is newly married to Bobby James. The two are away from their hometown of Purley, Texas, when Bobby James hits Jody for the first time. The next day he leaves Jody behind in a gas station with only $20 to her name. Rather then run back home, Jody finds her way to Jackson Beach, Florida. Jody's voice is sweet, honest, direct, real . I was quickly taken in with Jody's writing a letter to Mr. Harris Teeter.

"This is about the coleslaw. But first, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much we enjoyed the fine convenience of your food market in Perdido, Florida. Like I said to Bobby James, the coleslaw is probably just an oversight on your part. Still, I thought you'd want to hear about it. Bobby James said not to bother. An important personage like yourself would not take the time to read a letter from a plain out customer, he said. That was when I showed him your color ad in the Perdido News Press. Harris Teeter is waiting to hear from you."

In Florida, Jody finds a job and makes some friends. She thinks about her mother's marriage to her abusive father and her own relationship.

"Sometimes I thought I was stronger than my mama, that I would never let a man like daddy knock the fight out of me. Other times, I was not so sure. If I was back in Purley? And Bobby James came courting like he wasn't already a married man, with all those sweet promises and smelling like fresh aftershave? Well, I just didn't know for sure if I could turn him away. That was the shamefilled truth of it. Before I went back to Purley, I was going to have to find the strength in me. I didn't know exactly where to find it, or if I would know when I had it, but one thing was for sure. Letting go of Bobby James was for a reason.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Republichick on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am getting tired of these liberal authors writing books about southern characters. I knew from page one I wouldn't like this book. It's like a bad southern joke that never ends. The way the girl speaks is completely unreal. She talks like a backwoods hick from the 1930s. It's not common for 16 yr olds today in any part of the country to get married and leave high school. I'm sure it happens, but it's not something that's common in the south. The girl acts like a mental retarded 8 yr old. I am extremely angry that this author portrays a southern girl in this way as if it's typical. I can't believe the author actually gets pad to teach writing. Her skills are lacking. Her characters are phony. There is no depth in her writing. If you want to read a good book that has a similar story read Where the heart is.
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