Melissa Scholes Young * Center Street * June 27, 2017 * 336 Pages
Ten years ago, Laura Brooks decided she wouldn’t end up pregnant (like her best friend) or forever stuck defending her home and farmland from the flood-prone Mississippi River (like her boyfriend). So she left her very small home town of Hannibal, Missouri to make a better life for herself–and eventually she does. But after ten mostly good years in Florida, things suddenly fall apart, and Laura is forced to return home…back to her critical mother, her junkie brother, and her melodramatic and unstable best friend. Though she arrives at her childhood home feeling superior to the people she left, the more time she spends in Hannibal, the more she realizes that the past isn’t so black and white, and sometimes family is all you’ve got.
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This was a completely fine novel, in my opinion. I had no trouble zipping through the story; it held my interest well enough. The hard part was trying to empathize with any of the characters. Laura does have her good moments, and I really loved seeing her care for her best friend’s son, Bobby. But there are so many mean, ignorant, drunk, racist white trash characters in here. I give author Young props for painting such a vivid picture (yikes), but it got to be a little much. Laura’s mother is relentlessly negative; her brother is such a deadbeat. And watching Laura’s best friend use Bobby again and again to get back at her ex-husband…good grief. It was demoralizing. Humanity at it’s worst, you know?
Even though I knew the moral of the story in the end was that family is family and you have to stick together no matter what, I finished the book thinking, Laura, you’re better off back in Florida. Get away from these people while you still can, girl. Blood may be bond, but sometimes it’s just not worth it.
Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.