Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Jennie Shortridge has a knack for creating characters I don't particularly like, but that I end up cheering for by the end of the book. They make stupid ass decisions, and then end up growing up and redeeming themselves.
Case in point: Tallie Beck. Tallie is a down on her luck singer who after 17 years away lands back home. On her uptight, resentful sister Jane's doorstep. Before too long she is pissing off her sister with her drinking and smoking and irresponsible behavior. After taking a job at a participatory sing-along bar and moving in with her estranged mother, Tallie sloooooowly starts to work on family relationships and acceptance and her own feelings about who she is and what she wants out of life.
Despite the going-home-and-facing-your-past theme, this is a unique book. As I mentioned, the characters are flawed and not so lovable. Tallie's mom suffered from mental illness and consequently, the girls had a rough childhood. Tallie struggles with forgiveness, despite the fact that her mother on medication and no longer manic. Tallie also struggles with her perception of what a musician is. Eventually, she starts to realize that she can be settled and happy and working in a bar, and still be a successful entertainer.
Riding with the Queen is Shortridge's first book. And I think I like it a little better than Love and Biology. It's characters are quirkier, and while I still didn't really like them, I think I enjoyed them more than the Love and Biology cast.