Summary: From the author of The Middle Sister comes a heartwarming tale of second chances and the unparalleled love between mothers and daughters.
When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice.
Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family. -- Ballantine
GOING DOWN SOUTH by Bonnie J. Glover is a wonderful book that I think women everywhere should be raving about. The story about three generations of women was very compelling and fast-paced; and I didn't want to put the book down. While the book dealt with many sad and difficult situations, Ms. Glover somehow managed to incorporate a great deal of humor into the various characters in the novel. I absolutely adored the three women in this story, albeit for very different reasons. This book is definitely a story about the strength and resilience of women; however there are so many more layers to this novel.
One thing I loved about this novel was the development of the three female characters, Birdie, Daisy and Olivia Jean. The story was told in third person narrative, but showed the point of view of each woman. This allows the readers to really get to know (and love) these women. The author also goes back and forth between present and past effortlessly which is another way that we get to understand the actions of these characters. I thought the dialogue and interactions between these three women were very real (and at times hilarious.) I also found their "stories" and the things they experienced (and hid) in their lifetimes to be fascinating.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was how Ms. Glover chose to portray men. While there are a few men in this story that are absolutely despicable, selfish, irresponsible, etc. (I could go on and on), I did not find that this book was an attempt to bash men. Rather, I loved how Ms. Glover had a few male characters who were very brave and extremely likable -- Shorty and Lupe. I interpreted this to mean that there are good men out there; and it's up to women to find them and make the right choices.
This book definitely touched my heart and will remain in my thoughts for a long time. Not only did I love the female characters, but I enjoyed seeing how these women changed throughout the pages of this novel. I especially loved how all three of these women faced such difficult times, yet each one was so incredibly strong and and represented what it means to be a true survivor. I also found it extremely uplifting that these women eventually shared their heavy burdens and secrets with each other and became closer as a result. As I read the pages of this book, I felt so bogged down and sad because of the pain each woman was carrying. I think this heartache that I felt for each of the characters made the final pages of the book even more beautiful and memorable!
GOING DOWN SOUTH would be an excellent book to discuss at your next book club meeting, particularly if your group is made up of women and mothers. You can read a few excerpts here; and there is a reader's guide available which does a great job of highlighting so many of the issues in this book. After reading this novel, I found that there are just loads of things to talk about. Some of the major themes for discussion include mother/daughter relationships, the strength of women, honesty, racism, abuse, and secrets (this is a huge and very interesting topic in this novel.)
If you want to learn more about Ms. Glover and her latest novel GOING DOWN SOUTH, there is a wonderful interview Q&A here. In addition, Anna from Diary of an Eccentric had the privilege of asking Ms. Glover a few more questions. I found her interview to be very interesting as well.