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Backseat Saints

By Joshilyn Jackson

        Ro Grandee’s husband must die. The airport gypsy told her so. Deep in her heart, Ro knows the gypsy is telling the truth: one of them will die, and Ro controls whether it will be her or her husband. It’s not like Thom is an upstanding husband. He swallows his father’s verbal abuse and then beats Ro into the perfect housewife, ready to serve him at breakfast or in bed. She should’ve recognized the danger in his hands and controlling tongue from the childhood beatings by her father. Her younger self shakes her to remember the past. Beautiful but scrappy teenage Rose Mae Lolley only wanted someone to love and protect her.
But Ro needs to decide her future right now. Should she trust the gypsy, who she knows hides even darker secrets? If Ro kills her husband, who is left to love her? To save her life, Ro takes the road heavily travelled and tries to find an old lover, her angry father, and a mother who abandoned her. She’s certain one of them will be her savoir, but the past is racing up to the present. Who will she find? Who will control her life now?
Author Joshilyn Jackson creates southern stories, with unexpected twists, complete with sordid and bizarre details. The result is a suspenseful adventure, where readers find themselves totally engaged to believable characters. Jackson expertly writes super-charged emotions and dialogue, in which she explores mother-daughter relationships, domestic violence, and class differences.  Darker than Jackson's other novels, Backseat Saints illuminates tragic, real-life situations, like domestic abuse, with a compassionate but unyielding spotlight.

I read Backseat Saints, like a recovering chocoholic discovering a forgotten candy stash: wanting to relish every detail, savor Jackson’s phrases and insight, and try to stop from racing to the end, ever anxious to discover the climax. Highly recommended.

The Book

Grand Central / Hachette
June 2010
Fiction / General
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NOTE: Strong Warning: Sexual and physical abuse, violence

The Reviewer

Jennifer Akers
Reviewed 2010
© 2010