The Heroine: Mosey Slocumb, a teenage girl living with her mother, Liza, and grandmother, Ginny, in small-town Mississippi. The product of two successive teenage pregnancies, Mosey and her family are on guard for "the trouble year", the streak of bad luck that hits the Slocumb women every fifteen years. But none of them suspected trouble to come in the form of a child's dead body found buried under the willow tree in their backyard. The discovery launches Mosey into a journey of self-discovery, while Ginny fights to unearth the truth from her daughter Liza, silenced by a stroke. The Slocumb women's voyage to solving the mystery of the dead child forces them to confront the truth about love, family and identity.
The Highs: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is an ensemble novel, featuring the voices of all three Slocumb women as the mystery of the dead child and the effect it will have on their family is unravelled. Each woman has her own unique, original voice and speaks true to who they are as a character. Ginny, nurturing and loving, is the heart of the family and takes on her role of protector as fiercely as her torch still burns for a lover from the past. Liza is a rebellious firecracker, struggling to overcome the effects of her stroke, is trapped in the memories from her drug-ridden past. And Mosey, funny and naive, is as real as any living, breathing teenager off the street. I was enraptured by the incredibly realistic characters created by Joshilyn Jackson and I was impressed by her skill at crafting original voices for each of her women.
The mystery of the dead child itself was exciting and suspenseful. The layers of the past, revealed through Liza's memories, were enticingly pulled back to reveal the truth behind the mystery, rich in personal history and long-buried secrets. The flashbacks to Liza's past were incorporated seamlessly into the story. This is the first novel I have ever read by Joshilyn Jackson and I was extremely impressed with her writing and story-telling abilities.
The themes in the story resounded deeply with me, giving me a chance to reflect on my own familial relationships. The love, care and respect that the three Slocumb women have for each other is touching and heart-warming. I also loved the theme of identity reflected in Mosey's search for answers; it is very true that it is the relationships you choose to nurture, not the place you were born, that says most about you.
The Lows: Throughout the novel, Mosey has various conversations over text with her best friend and partner in crime, Roger. Though I found their hijinks really humorous, I was annoyed at the constant "text-speak" used by the author. As a nineteen year old, I have recent memories of my teenage years (some might say I'm still in them!) and I don't know a single person who texts "like ths". It can b relly annoyin to read a hole convo like this. Pls just spk english. I dnt no what ur trying to say!
I also wish some characters had gotten the justice they deserved. It pained me for the Slocumb women to let them walk away with out damages after the real hard inflicted on them by others. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say much more beyond that I was disappointed that the Slocumb's did not pursue the justice they deserved for certain crimes done against them.
Final Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and I hope to pick up another of Joshilyn Jackson's books soon!
Rating: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty earns eight willow trees out of ten.
Buy this book at the Book Depository here
Connect with Joshilyn Jackson at her website here
Photo from here