Friday, February 8, 2008

Review: Girls in Trucks

Summary: Sarah Walters is a less-than-perfect debutante. She tries hard to follow the time-honored customs of the Charleston Camellia Society, as her mother and grandmother did, standing up straight in cotillion class and attending lectures about all the things that Camellias don't do. (Like ride with boys in pickup trucks.) But Sarah can't quite ignore the barbarism just beneath all that propriety, and as soon as she can she decamps South Carolina for a life in New York City. There, she and her fellow displaced Southern friends try to make sense of city sophistication, to understand how much of their training applies to real life, and how much to the strange and rarefied world they've left behind. When life's complications become overwhelming, Sarah returns home to confront with matured eyes the motto "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia"- and to see how much fuller life can be, for good and for ill, among those who know you best. Girls in Trucks introduces an irresistable, sweet, and wise voice that heralds the arrival of an exciting new talent. -

I was so excited to get a package of books this week from Hachette Book Group to review. They all looked really good, but I just had to read GIRLS IN TRUCKS by Katie Crouch first. I thought the cover was absolutely adorable and it just drew me in. I read the summary of the book and thought it looked like a "cute" chick lit kind of novel. My initial impressions were totally off - this book definitely doesn't fall into what I consider to be a light read. This book is much deeper and more intense than the back cover indicates.

I really enjoyed the first half of the book and actually read it in one sitting. The book begins when Sarah and her friends are at the Cotillion Training School learning how to be "Camellias." Throughout the next few chapers, the book is very entertaining and humorous with tales of Sarah growing up and meeting boys. I thought the author did a great job of developing her character and I really liked Sarah! There were some hints in the early chapters that the book might become more serious, especially the story of Sarah visiting her sister Eloise at college and Sarah's experience with her boyfriend Max.

When I picked up the book for the second time, I thought its entire tone had changed. While I still thought it was a coming of age novel, life for Sarah and her friends was very different after they had moved away from Charleston. There were many serious issues discussed in this book including depression, adultery, cancer, drug use, alcholism, and physical abuse. It was NOT a light, chick lit book anymore! While at times I felt sorry for Sarah and her friends, I found myself a little angry at the characters, especially Sarah since I had been so fond of her. I was frustrated with Sarah because I could see that she had so much to offer someone, yet she didn't like herself enough to be a stable factor in a relationship. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but Sarah did redeem herself to me in the last couple of chapters.

I felt that the author did a good job with the ending. Even though it seemed like she was going to just wrap things up with a tidy bow (and I wouldn't have liked that), she ended with a thought for the reader that things probably weren't going to be perfect, but there is always love. I also believed that Sarah was going to start accepting herself and be a better person.

This was Katie Crouch's first novel and I definitely don't think it will be the last we hear of her. (By the way, Ms. Crouch really was a "Camellia" who grew up in Charleston.) I would love to talk to her and find out how much, if any, of the book is autobiographical. She showed a lot of talent with her writing -- she was able to switch voices very effectively in a few of the chapters -- and she kept the book interesting.

GIRLS IN TRUCKS will be available on April 7, 2008, and is available for pre-orders from most retail book outlets now. I do think it would make a good discussion book for a female bookclub; however, I couldn't find a discussion guide yet.

Also reviewed at:
Everyday I Write the Book


Anonymous said...

Great review! I so want to read it now (and I agree, the cover is very nice)!

Anonymous said...

So you read books twice before reviewing? Wow. But I think I get why... Regarding coming up with discussion questions: That's my FAVE part of book clubs! (Care at bkclubcare.wordpress)

Laura said...

I would love to read this book seeing how my daughter and her boyfriend drive pick up trucks:-)I love your reviews, you do a great job!

katie said...

Hi, it's Katie Crouch. I was just sent this link. Thank you so much for your thoughtful review! I am so honored. You're not the only one wondering if the book is autobiographical. (My mom is too!!!) I wrote more background here:
Thanks again for your time and words. This blog is great. Best, Katie C.

bermudaonion said...

Great review! I hope to read this one soon.