A Grown-up Kind of Pretty: A Novel, by Joshilyn Jackson ****

agrownupkindofprettyMosey Slocumb’s mother, Liza, has had a stroke. It’s a good thing both of them live with Big. Big is the name given Ginny, mother of Liza, grandmother of Mosey. The ladies in the family tend to give birth early and unexpectedly; both Ginny and Liza had babies at fifteen. In the inner city, this happens so often that most folks don’t care, but in their tiny southern town, the judgments fall hard and fast. They are not welcome in the homes of their other relatives, nor even at church. They are “the ones who had been put out like bad cats. Outside, all Liza and I could hope for was the dark, ass end of Jesus,” according to Ginny.

The town does not only judge sins that have taken place; it also anticipates sin. Mosey is fifteen now. She can feel the eyes of her classmates, her teachers, and even Big and Liza keep her under close scrutiny. Although she is a virgin, she has taken to using home pregnancy tests…just in case.

All of this changes with the discovery of the silver box buried beneath the willow tree.

All that Ginny, Liza, and Mosey have, really, is each other, and when their family is threatened, all of them–even poor, damaged Liza–come out swinging.

This is a fun book once the early part is past, or at least that was my take on it. Jackson is a courageous writer, but some may find her style too abrasive to enjoy. She takes conventional religion apart, no doubt about it, and whereas I was fine with this, those that enjoy a family-like church relationship may easily be offended. So then, this is for the more leftward-leaning among us, yes?

Yes but no. There were several passages at the start of the book that also sounded a lot like life-begins-at-conception, and abortion-is-murder. It wasn’t said, but it was implied strongly enough to raise my hackles. Had I not already really enjoyed this writer’s later work (Between, Georgia), I think I might have slammed the book shut and tossed it onto the yard sale pile.

Even the most brilliant author must make sure that when she takes a stand, or two, or three, she has an audience left after those she has offended fall by the wayside.

That much said, I really enjoyed this story once I was past the initial rough patch. An engaging story, mostly, about three generations of women who stand by one another through whatever comes.

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