By: Susan Crandall
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: July 2013
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: July 2013
It is so rare in this day and age of werewolves, vampires, serial killers, etcetera, to receive a book that’s beyond witty, highly intelligent and downright charming. There’s a reason why books become ‘classics;’ it’s because people simply can’t stop reading the book. And because of the beauty of the story, they want to pass that book along for generations to come.
This is a classic. This is the Deep South at its finest, with characters from different backgrounds joining together for a road trip that will literally change their lives, as well as the lucky reader who’s along for the ride.
Starla Claudelle’s mother left her when she was only three-years old. Lulu was a woman who wanted more than her small town and motherhood; she wanted the chance to head to Nashville, stand on the stage, and become the next American country legend. She promises Starla that one day Momma will be the best of the best and she and Daddy will join her in Nashville to live in a big house as one big happy family.
However, Starla can’t count on her father. He basically lives inside himself, working on an oil rig in the Gulf where he spends most of his time away from her. The only person Starla gets to see on a daily basis is her grandmother, who is more military than cookie-maker. Grandma has a way of finding all Starla’s faults and punishes her with restrictions whenever Starla even attempts to have a good time. Grandma is so sick of her that she threatens to put Starla away in a reform school, lock the door and throw away the key.
What’s a girl to do? Well, you see Starla - even though she’s only nine-years-old - does have some of Lulu in her. She has a sassy demeanor and a desire for a better life. And in the summer of ‘63, fearing the reform school, Starla finds the courage within herself to head down the road and out of town as fast as she can.
Starla wants her life to change; she wants that promise Lulu made so long ago to come to fruition, but what she finds in her escape is something even better. Eula is a black woman who’s making her own way down the road with a white baby in tow. Offering Starla a ride, reality comes to the surface as the young girl with the big dreams realizes what life can hand you…and how with strength and hope she can change her fate and become her very own star.
This is one of those beautiful tales that offers the entire spectrum of sadness to elation. Each word seems to be a new lesson in life, and the characters work off each other brilliantly.
Quill says: In the age of sci-fi and fantasy, this book is a breath of fresh air you’ll never forget.