From Publishers Weekly
In a plodding second novel, Bruckheimer (Dreaming Southern
) revisits the familiar Down South iconography of her debut as two sisters retrace a cross-country trip made decades before with their flighty mother, Lila Mae. Their destination is Blue Lick Springs, Ky., their long-forsaken hometown, and the trip's raison d'être is Lila Mae's 75th birthday. But once they get to Blue Lick, Rebecca and Carleen (joined by third sister Irene, who arrives by Greyhound bus) become embroiled in various plot lines. The novel relies heavily on local color, but clichéd scenarios and scene-setting foil the author's attempts to bring Blue Lick to life. Though Bruckheimer's prose strains for lyricism, the logjam of metaphors and similes in almost every sentence is tiresome and distracting. "The man... was a five-foot pipsqueak with lollipop-pink skin and a mouse-brown hairpiece that sat on his head like a fried egg." Dialogue aiming to recreate Southern parlance misfires ("Ya done good, girl, ya done rilllll good") and slows the narrative. What little plot the author constructs is camouflaged by shopworn sentiment: "My nerves are drawn tight as the strings of a Stradivarius. But, there is magic in the night, and I am infused with excitement, as if the wings of some exotic bird were flapping inside me." Some readers may manage to make it to the end of this poorly organized novel, but it's unlikely they'll be infused with anything but irritation.
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The Wooten family returns (Dreaming Southern
, 2000) in this tale of a small town fighting Wal-Martization. Irene Wooten was too young to remember much about Blue Lick Springs, Kentucky, when her family left for California in the 1950s, but the town still exerts a powerful hold over her older sisters, Rebecca and Carleen. When Rebecca learns that a mysterious company called Castleco is buying up and razing old buildings there, she launches a land grab of her own--until her determination to reclaim the old family estate, Rosemont, brings her into a head-to-head struggle with Castleco. Meanwhile, Carleen stands up to her philandering husband, Irene moves in with her grandmother, and the whole town prepares to celebrate Lila Mae Wooten's seventy-fifth birthday. There are too many subplots, and the quirkiness of Blue Lick Springs sometimes veers uncomfortably close to parody, but this is an engaging, fast-paced novel. Bruckheimer plays many of the skirmishes between pro- and antidevelopment forces for laughs, but she is serious about the threats to the economic health and character of American small towns. Meredith ParetsCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved