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Backseat Saints Paperback – May 4, 2011
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Rose Mae Lolley's mother disappeared when she was eight, leaving Rose with a heap of old novels and a taste for dangerous men. Now, as demure Mrs. Ro Grandee, she's living the very life her mother abandoned. She's all but forgotten the girl she used to be-teenaged spitfire, Alabama heartbreaker, and a crack shot with a pistol-until an airport gypsy warns Rose it's time to find her way back to that brave, tough girl . . . or else. Armed with only her wit, her pawpy's ancient .45, and her dog Fat Gretel, Rose Mae hightails it out of Texas, running from a man who will never let her go, on a mission to find the mother who did.
Starring a minor character from Jackson's bestselling gods in Alabama, BACKSEAT SAINTS will dazzle readers with its stunning portrayal of the measures a mother will take to right the wrongs she's created, and how far a daughter will travel to satisfy the demands of forgiveness.
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One night, just before high school graduation, Jim got into a car accident after a party and vanished. Left with nothing, Rose Mae left her father's home and Alabama altogether, determined to start a new life.
Now in her mid-twenties, she's got one -- as Ro Grandee, wife of Thom Grandee, son of a wealthy Texas family. On the surface, Ro seems like she's living the ideal. But behind closed doors, the truth is much darker. Thom is just as angry and violent as her father was, possibly even worse. Ro has all but forgotten what it feels like to live without painful bruises and mending bones.
Suddenly a chance encounter in an airport makes Ro see her situation crystal clear -- it's either Thom or her, not both, who can live. It's time to choose, and Ro chooses herself.
Yet as she quickly learns, it's not all that easy to completely change your life, especially when you've essentially been living some variation of it since childhood. Where do you go? How do you go about it? And worse, how to keep the man you know is capable of murder from ending it all?
As Ro transitions back into Rose Mae, she also realizes that she needs to address many of the issues that have haunted her throughout most of her life. What really happened the day her mother left? What really happened to Jim Beverly? The future depends upon her getting the answers.
Although some readers may find the ending a bit too convenient, Jackson writes an enjoyable novel with engaging characters, just as real as anyone we may know in our everyday lives.
In Backseat Saints, we are gifted with the versions of Rose Mae. There is the little girl of eight, whose mother has walked out on her. A version that continues into high school. She is full of mouthiness and is a guy magnet. But she picks the bad ones.
As Ro, she is married to Thom Grandee, a mix of good and bad. Because we see so much of the abuse almost immediately, it is impossible to realize the good parts right away. The parts that keep Ro hooked.
But something else is stirring up inside Ro these days, beginning on the day she meets a Gypsy at the airport. It's the pull of another journey: a journey to find her mother.
Ro's journey (she has taken on another version now as Ivy Wheeler) carries her from Amarillo, Texas, to Chicago, and then to Fruiton, Alabama, where she grew up. Ultimately she arrives in Berkeley, California.
Will Rose Mae find her mother? And when she does, will she discover the truth of why her mother left? Or will she find something completely different under a blanket of untruths?
The ending of this story crept up on me and I didn't see this version coming. I could have guessed, but the unfolding drama left me wanting so much more of these characters and their stories. And perhaps more from the characters who were not primary ones in this tale. At the end, I enjoyed reading the author's truths about how she came to write these characters...and what might lie ahead. Five stars!
The measure of a good book to me is whether I will tell my friends and students to read the book. In fact, with a great book, I become the pushy person with an opinion who keeps talking until you agree with her. Whenever I recommend a book to someone, I want them to read the book because only then will they understand the rightness of my opinion. Reading is my entertainment more than anything else, and Jackson's books make me feel as if I am enlightening my mind with Masterpiece Theater as opposed to trashing my mind with Jersey Shore, yet at the same time, I enjoy her books more than any of my guilty pleasures reading. In other words, it is like chocolate without the calories. So read this book, and then read her other books, then you can feel smart while doing something fun!