WOW! Women on Writing Book Tour: A Review of A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little
Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
I am very pleased to be participating in WOW! Women on Writing’s book tour and giveaway with a review of A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little. Even though the focus of my blog is on memoir writing, I strongly believe that reading fiction helps memoir writers hone their craft. We all have to use the same techniques of transporting our readers into our world through storytelling.
Official Book Synopsis:
Dates: August 19, 2013 – September 18, 2013
Title: A Southern Place
Author: Elaine Drennon Little
Genre: Southern Fiction
Synopsis: Mary Jane Hatcher–everyone calls her Mojo–is beat up bad. She’s in the ICU of Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in South Georgia, barely able to talk. How Mojo goes from being that skinny little girl in Nolan, a small forgotten town along the Flint River, to the young woman now fighting for her life, is where this story begins and ends.
Mojo, her mama Delores and her Uncle Calvin Mullinax, like most folks in Nolan, have just tried to make the best of it. Of course, people aren’t always what they seem, and Phil Foster–the handsome, spoiled son of the richest man in the county–is no exception.
As the story of the Mullinax family unfolds, Mojo discovers a family’s legacy can be many things: a piece of earth, a familiar dwelling, a shared bond. And although she doesn’t know why she feels such a bond with Phil Foster, it is there all the same, family or not. And she likes to think we all have us a fresh start. Like her mama always said, the past is all just water under the bridge. Mojo, after going to hell and back, finally comes to understand what that means.
From the first page when a young woman named MoJo is beaten and fighting for her life in ICU, I was pulled into this story and compelled to keep turning the pages to learn more about what led up to this traumatic circumstance. Through the voice of the sheriff Wally Purvis, the only link to her past, we are introduced to MoJo’s grandparents, mother , uncle, and to the dynamic and culture of the deep South. We begin the story behind the story of this young woman and the family she came from.
We then hear MoJo’s reflections on her Mama, Delores, and her Mama’s brother, Uncle Cal. We come to know them as a poor working class family whose family bonds and work ethic are a source of strength. But I still wondered where this was all going to lead so I kept reading, getting more involved with each chapter.
Little’s writing style is engaging and poignant. The characters are believable and authentic and she captures their vulnerabilities and strengths in a way that makes them come alive on the page. Dialect is difficult to master in prose but Little does it with ease and finesse. We are not reading a story, we are experiencing their hopes and longings and we begin caring about them as people. The author’s description of the tiny town of Nolan where this story takes place are vivid and make you feel like you are right there as she captures the life and times of the working poor in the deep South . We also experience the disparities and injustices between the haves and the have-nots.
The story structure is set over decades and ties multiple story lines together as Little foreshadows challenges in the characters’ lives. All the character’s lives are intertwined in a way that drives the narrative forward and keeps the reader in suspense. I never felt confused about so many story lines, but rather I felt compelled to know more about each character and how they impacted on one another. Uncle Cal stands out as a hero who despite his personal demons and physical limitations of losing an arm in a farm accident, sacrifices for his family, caring for his sister and niece to the best of his ability. But MoJo is the heroine for in the end she redeems the mistakes of the generation before her, breaking the cycle of poverty and suffering. She carries on with the resilience and determination of the family before her.
A Southern Location is a stunning debut novel that captures the essence of the working poor in the Deep South. This is a book I would read again. Better yet, I will echo what others have said and say I will look forward to more work from Ms. Little.
About the Author:
Adopted at birth, Elaine lived her first twenty years on her parents’ agricultural farm in rural southern Georgia. She was a public school music teacher for twenty-seven years, and continued to dabble with sideline interests in spite of her paid profession. Playing in her first band at age fourteen, she seemed to almost always be involved in at least one band or another. Elaine’s writing began in high school, publishing in local newspapers, then educational journals, then later in online fiction journals. In 2008 she enrolled in the MFA program at Spalding University in Louisville, where upon graduation finished her second novel manuscript. Recently retiring after eleven years as a high school chorus and drama director, Elaine now lives in north Georgia with her husband, an ever-growing library of used books, and many adopted animals.
Find out more about this author by visiting her online:
Author blog: http://
Author Facebook Page:https://www.facebook.com/
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below:
A copy of A Southern Child will be given to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing of commenters.
Next Week: Memoir Author Sheila Collins will discuss “Lessons From a Dancing Life”, in conjunction with the launch of her memoir,Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss, and Rituals that Heal. Sheila will give away a copy of her memoir to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing of commenters.