Joshilyn Jackson hits another home run with Backseat Saints. Like The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, Jackson takes on a more serious topic, domestic abuse – and more specifically how it tends to run in families – but does so with grace and dignity.
The main character in Backseat Saints is Rose Mae Lolley – a minor character from gods in Alabama. In the previous story, Rose Mae shows up looking for her high school sweetheart. In the current novel, we learn Rose Mae’s version of their relationship and just why she was huntin’ him down. Rose Mae is in a awful mess – her marriage. It looks eerily similar to the one her mom & dad had before her mom left. When a gypsy fortune teller tells her it is either her or him, she starts making plans.
Jackson’s humor provides much needed levity to the topic of spousal abuse, but she handles it in such a way that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of her subject. Rose Mae – or Ro (her alter-ego) – is at once weak and strong, victim and survivor, innocent and guilty, and is (at times literally) searching for the road that will lead her to freedom from her abuser. As a reader (or listener) you’ll move quickly between cheering her on and cringing at a self-defeating choice. All the while, Jackson’s knack for turning a laugh-out-loud phrase will keep you hoping the ride won’t end.
A great read for women, Southern or not, who love a story about a girl who’s decided she’s worth standing up for.
(To listen to a 4 minute audio clip of Jackson reading from Backseat Saints, go here.)
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