I was hooked from the opening lines.
"It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband. She may have been the first to say the words out loud, but she was only giving voice to a thing I'd been trying not to know for a long, long time. When she said that it was him or me, the words rang out like church bells, shuddering through my bones."
Rose Mae Lolley from Alabama has reinvented herself as Mrs. Ro Grandee of Texas. She cooks and cleans and keeps to herself. She also wears long sleeves most of the time. She left her daddy's anger and fists behind as a teenager only to marry Thom - a man just as bad or worse. When the gypsy reads her cards and tells her what she already knows, Rose Mae is resurrected.
Jackson deftly explores relationships of all manner in Backseat Saints. Abused and abuser, parent and child, man and wife, individual spiritual beliefs (here's where the Saints come in) and more. Her characters are incredibly well drawn. Ro/Rose is strong, fierce and funny, but she's also somewhat unlikeable sometimes. I felt somewhat guilty feeling that as she is an abused woman. Her relationship with her mother is a minefield. Her father, initially portrayed as a hard, unfeeling man in the beginning, comes off as a pitiful wreck later. The same thing with Thom, her husband. He too is an abuser, but when seen in relationship to his father, he steps into the role of abused.
It was a treat listening to Jackson read. Being a Southern native herself, she has the accent/drawl to bring Rose Mae/Ro to life. As they are her words, the emphasis and inflections are exactly where she meant them to be.
The ending left me a bit conflicted - again a two sided page. But Backseat Saints kept me engrossed from first disc to last. This would be a great book club choice and would engender lots of discussion!
Reading guide provided.
Listen to an excerpt. Or if you prefer read an excerpt.
You've got a chance to win one of three audio book copies of Backseat Saints that I'm giving away. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Enter here. Ends Sept. 4/10.