Friday, September 23, 2011

Sweet Jiminy

Sweet Jiminy, Kristin Gore's third novel, is a different sort of book than her first two: Sammy's Hill and Sammy's House. Two of my friends labeled it "ok" and "all right," which, I admit, didn't cause me to rush to read it. I almost took this book back to the library without reading it because I had hung on to it for so long.

Last night I started Sweet Jiminy, and this morning I finished it off. For me it was better than the mediocre ratings that were passed on to me.

Jiminy is visiting her grandma in the South. She has dropped out of law school and is finding herself. While there she reconnects with Bo, the nephew of her grandmother's cleaning lady. As Bo and Jiminy begin a romance, issues of race and the way people react to them being together highlights how different people feel about a mixed race relationship. Jiminy also discovers that Lyn (her grandmother's cleaning lady) had a daughter - also named Jiminy- who died under mysterious and tragic circumstances along with Lyn's husband. Seeking the truth Jiminy gets assistance from Carlos, a lawyer who specializes in civil rights crimes. Add in to this a growing Hispanic population that continues to feel pressure by whites in this small southern town, and there is a lot going on in this slim novel.

After my initial confusion at the beginning of this novel- trying to figure out who Willa and Lyn were and Jiminy's connection to them, I really did enjoy this book. While set in the South, I wouldn't call this novel big on Southern charm, but it did give a good look at racism in small town settings and kept me engaged til the end as the people who killed Jiminy and her father were revealed. The only real thing I disliked about this story was the last two pages which are narrated in Lyn's voice. For me, those two pages were unnecessary and somewhat confusing. I enjoyed how Gore finished things off prior to that.

Sweet Jiminy is yet another book in Gore's growing collection of work. I will happily read any future novel this woman writes.

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