Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore

Here is a summary of Sweet Jiminy from the Hyperion Books website:

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, Jiminy Davis abruptly quits law school and flees Chicago for her grandmother Willa’s farm in rural Mississippi. In search of peace and quiet, Jiminy instead stumbles upon more trouble and turmoil than she could have imagined.

She is shocked to discover that there was once another Jiminy—the daughter of her grandmother’s longtime housekeeper, Lyn—who was murdered along with Lyn’s husband four decades earlier in a civil rights–era hate crime. With the help of Lyn’s nephew, Bo, Jiminy sets out to solve the cold case, to the dismay of those who would prefer to let sleeping dogs lie.

Beautifully written, and with a sure grip on the tensions and social mores of small towns in the South, Sweet Jiminy will captivate its readers, and fans of Kristin Gore’s earlier novels will be intrigued and compelled by this new direction for her fiction.

My Review:
This is the second book that I have read in the last couple of months that takes place in Mississippi and deals with racial prejudice issues.  This novel brings us pretty close to the subject as characters are discriminated against today and others are dealing with crimes of discrimination from years ago.

Although Jiminy is the main character of the novel she isn't necessarily the narrator.  We seem to learn the most about Jiminy and her life as she takes it upon herself to look into an unsolved crime that took place back in the 60's.  Lyn is a close friend and housekeeper of Jiminy's grandmother and she is appalled to learn that Lyn's husband and only daughter, also named Jiminy, were found murdered in the 60's.  The worst fact is that the authorities really did not attempt to find who was responsible, but claimed the brutal murders were an accident.

Through Jiminy's investigation we learn a lot about what life was like back then.  Since Lyn and her family were African Americans they were obviously outcasts because of the time period.  Jiminy's grandmother, Willa, hired Lyn as a housekeeper but soon became close friends and the two families bonded in a way that was unacceptable to the rest of society.

Lyn's nephew Bo, who is also an African American, arrives in town and Jiminy and Bo start to develop a relationship that is frowned upon.  Most of the finger-pointing seems to come from older folks who weren't keen on inter-racial relationships during the 60's.  With the help of Willa, Lyn, Bo, and a journalist, Jiminy uncovers not only the secret of the murders of Lyn's family, but also family secrets, and the meaning of K.S.O.

This was a very interesting novel and it made me realize that I should read more about the time of segregation and the end of it.   It seemed to have a third party narration, which I am not really fond of, but the author seemed to switch timelines on me without notification.  It was a bit hard to follow because of this.  I did enjoy the mystery aspect of the book and I can tell you that I didn't want to put it down once I got a chance to sit and read.  I ended up with a sunburn sitting on my deck one afternoon!  

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me from the publisher through the NetGalley program in exchange for an honest review.


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like book has a good story, but maybe could have been edited a little bit better. I don't think I'll seek it out, but if it comes my way, I'd probably try it.

Julie said...

I've been on the fence about this one; the premise seems great, but the reviews have been at best mixed. I think I'm still on the fence :)

Anonymous said...

I've read a few other reviews that were disappointed weoth this one.

Anonymous said...

This book is horrible it sounds good at first but then it isnt good at all it had horrible literary elements and was confusing I am having a hard time doing a project on it