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Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel Paperback – June 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"This is Susan Gregg Gilmore’s first novel, but her voice is similar to that of Fannie Flagg. Readers of Southern stories will enjoy the poignant self-discovery journey of this lovable heroine."
Tampa Tribune

"Gilmore tells her tale with gentle humor and genuine regard for her characters."
Omaha World-Herald

“If I had to make a comparison, I would compare Susan Gregg Gilmore to Fannie Flagg, but Gilmore more than holds her own. This is an unusually engaging novel by a very fine writer who knows exactly what she is doing.”
—Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

“Susan Gregg Gilmore’s debut novel, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, is storytelling at its best, entertaining and lively and full of surprises. Catherine Grace Cline, the endearing witty heroine, gives her domestic journey titles of Biblical proportion as she finds more than salvation along the way.”
—Jill McCorkle, author of Carolina Moon

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

SUSAN GREGG GILMORE has written for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the Christian Science Monitor.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307395022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307395023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (498 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Gregg Gilmore was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1961. Her mother is a painter, and her father was the son of a revival-bred preacher, a rich storyteller, and an insurance executive whose work moved his family across the country. But every summer, he brought his four children back to their native Tennessee to fish, swim, catch lighting bugs and grow the perfect tomato.

After graduating from the University of Virginia, Susan worked as a secretary for the Smithsonian Institution. And after graduating with a Master's degree from the University of Texas, she birthed three babies, whipped up cookies for bake sales, chaired community fundraisers, taught Sunday School, and somewhere along the way free-lanced for newspapers like the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor. Then one afternoon, she decided to write a screenplay. And when she sat down at her desk, she began writing a novel.

Susan now lives once again in Nashville, Tennessee, on the same street she lived on as a young girl. And although she has tired of sweet tea, she continues to write about her beloved South.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

120 of 126 people found the following review helpful By BermudaOnion VINE VOICE on July 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Catherine Grace Cline was six years old, and her sister Martha Ann was four, when their mother drowned. Their daddy is the preacher at the Baptist church in their small Georgia town. When their father is busy, Gloria Jean, a neighbor and old friend of their mother's watches the girls. Catherine Grace loves Gloria Jean because she's the only person who will talk about her mother.

Catherine Grace and Martha Ann head down to the Dairy Queen every Saturday for a Dilly Bar. That's when Catherine Grace does her dreaming and planning. She longs to get out of their small town and head to Atlanta and can't understand why Eddie Franklin is content with his life - working at Dairy Queen in a small town.

When Catherine Grace causes a commotion at a church function, her father punishes her by forbidding her to go to Dairy Queen for the rest of the summer. Gloria Jean comes up with a plan to keep the girls busy and help Catherine Grace earn money for her get-away all at the same time.

After she graduates from high school and turns eighteen, Catherine Grace heads to Atlanta with her savings. She finds a job and a place to live and things are going pretty well for her when she's called home because of a family emergency. She gets some shocking news when she gets home and finds out that she may have been looking for happiness in the wrong place all along.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is the wonderful debut novel of Susan Gregg Gilmore. (It's hard for me to believe this is her first book!) There is so much more to this book than appears on the surface. It's about love and acceptance of friends and family. It's about having a dream and having the guts to follow it. Mostly it's about forgiveness, though.
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101 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Julie on February 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I knew this was one of my all-time favorite books when I couldn't put it down the first day I got it. But then the owner of a bookstore compared it to To Kill A Mockingbird -- then a radio producer mentioned the same thing to me when she finished it -- Catherine Grace (the main character) is the voice of Scout in a different time. I laughed as I read the way Susan Gregg Gilmore (author) described, people, feelings and places. Then I cried when Catherine Grace faced decisions that seem insurmountable to an 18-year-old. Somehow I was right back there with her at that age (even though that was nearly 30 years ago!). By the end I was laughing and crying. This book is an onion. You can skim it as chick-lit, if that's you're wanting out of it. You can feel it to the core of your soul if you want to take a journey back to the time just between being a child and an adult. Or, you can argue the finer points of the book as an allegory. If you do, guess what Dairy Queen is? - Heaven. For this first time author to connect so genuinely with each and every reader (the best reviews have come from male book reviewers so far), I think we've got a new author to follow.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Julie Peterson on July 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am a huge sucker for good Southern fiction! Even though I now live in Central, PA, I did spend the majority of my childhood living in the South; and maybe that's one of the reasons that I enjoy these types of books so much. When I read the praise for LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN by Susan Gregg Gilmore and saw that this novel was being compared to Fannie Flagg's books, I just knew I had to read it. I absolutely love some of Ms. Flagg's novels and especially her characters, and I can definitely say that LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN did not disappoint me (even given that big build-up). I treasured each and every page of this book!

I read this book in almost one sitting (which you know is hard if you are a stay-at-home mother of two.) There are just so many things that I loved about this novel, but I think what I appreciated the most were the characters -- and especially Catherine Grace. This book is really a coming-of age novel about Catherine Grace growing up in the South in the 1970s, and she is just one of those characters that you can't help but fall in love with. She was smart, sassy, stubborn and even a little vulnerable; and reading about her actions both as a child and an adult were just so much fun. I loved seeing how Catherine Grace handled the various challenges in her life, and I enjoyed seeing her mature into an amazing young woman as a result of them.

The supporting characters in this book were wonderful too from Catherine Grace's sister, father, and even the various citizens of Ringgold. I especially loved Catherine Grace's colorful neighbor Gloria Jean who provided the much-needed woman's touch in Catherine Grace's life.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Nelaine Sanchez VINE VOICE on October 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
Catherine Grace Cline wants to get the heck outta Dodge... or better said, the heck outta Ringgold, Georgia. There is just something about this town that just makes her restless - maybe it's that it's too quiet, or too small, or that it has a very small population - where everyone is your neighbor and they all know every little thing about your life. She and her sister spend every Saturday eating Dilly Bars at the Dairy Queen and plotting their big escape.

Catherine Grace lives with her father, the town's Baptist Minister, as well as her younger sister. It's been tough living without her momma, who accidentally drowned when she was young. And although she still misses her mother and has always been haunted by her passing, she has luckily found a mother figure in her mother's best friend, Gloria Jean.

Gloria Jean is an inspiration to Catherine Grace. For no one in town looks, dresses or acts like Gloria Jean - with her pretty nails, always done-up hair and fancy clothes. So when the chance arrives for Catherine Grace to move out of town and live in the big city, Atlanta - working in a department store and leading the life she has always dreamed about, she has no qualms with saying good-bye to her family, friends and boyfriend.

But when tragedy strikes and Catherine Grace has to make her way back home - not just is she surprised when she realizes that nothing she believed was as she thought, but she will also question whether leaving her hometown was the best thing for her, or was she where she belonged from the start.

Catherine Grace's voice is so unique and innocent that you become immediately immersed in her life and that of the citizens of Ringgold from the first sentence. As you read, you almost feel as if you are reading with a Southern drawl...
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