South of Everything
If you would like to be transported to the deep South of the 1940s, pick up a copy of this surprising book. Told in retrospective narration from the point of view of Missy Sara, a white girl who is about eight at the beginning of the story, and lives with her wealthy extended family on a small plantation in Tennessee, this coming-of-age novel takes us on Sara’s journey into her teens.
Sara and her little brother spend much of their summers riding their bicycles around the plantation, trying to keep themselves busy. They spend time at the horse barns and with the stable master’s sons, one of whom turns out to be completely insane, but they spend as much time as they can with Old Thomas, the magical servant who has been with their grandfather, Reddaddy, for many years.
As Sara grows up, she loses some who are so important in her life, as is quite normal, but others step in to help her through the losses she suffers. Readers see her become the young woman she is destined to be.
One would never forget for a moment the story is set in the South, as it is populated by people with names such as Robertelee, B-Budd, Reddaddy, Old Thomas, Mammyrosy, and more. Every one of the characters is fully-formed, well-rounded, and completely believable. The place is so richly realized as to almost become a character itself. Though this would probably be categorized as magical realism, readers will be completely taken in by the charming story and superb writing. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez has such a fresh voice and complete command of language as well as a fascinating story to tell, readers will never be disappointed.
She Writes Press
Audrey Taylor Gonzalez