Hoosier Daddy by Ann McMan and Salem West is hard for me to describe without falling all over myself like a fangirly weirdo. But I hear you fine readers like that side of me, and I know it makes Sheena laugh, so let’s roll with it.
Jill “Friday” Fryman is a line supervisor at Krylon, making big farming pickup trucks in southern Indiana. Her life kind of sucks at the moment: her boss is an ass-grabbing creep, she’s having a hard time making headway on her MBA, her affair with the married Misty Ann Marks has gone up spectacularly in flames since Misty is sleeping with another coworker, and no one knows what’s going to happen now that Krylon has been bought by Ogata Torakku of Indiana.
After seeing more than ample evidence that it’s time to get over Misty Ann, Jill agrees to join her best friends Luanne and T-Bomb at Hoosier Daddy, the place to be for Krylon workers looking for a post-shift pitcher of Old Style. When a beautiful, surprisingly talented, singer takes the karaoke stage, Jill’s day starts looking up. That is, until she finds out that El is an agitator for the UAW, in town with a mission to stir up enough interest for their factory to (hopefully) vote in the union.
Their mutual, immediate interest is clear, but can they possibly do anything about it with the whole town watching their every move? It might just be time for Friday to do something for herself for a change.
The story is told in the first person from Friday’s perspective, and yet, we learn just as much about the town as we do about her because she effortlessly weaves them into the story. She grew up in Princeton, and yet she both fits and doesn’t because she’s gay and much better educated than everyone around her. She’s a fish out of water in her own hometown and is getting tired of it, even if the people closest to her, like Grammy Mann, are there.
El is brilliant, beautiful, and dedicated to her job, but is also a sweetheart with champion A++ banter and flirting skills. It’s no wonder Friday can’t stay away from her, even while they’re both mindful of their places on either side of the union/management lines.
The side characters are so, so well done and when you add them together, truly give you the flavour of the town. The effect is that the town itself is almost like its own character—quirky, flawed, but basically good hearted.
The Writing Style
If I didn’t know for a fact that I’ve never met Ann McMan and Salem West and have only interacted with them online very recently, I would swear that they wrote this book for me. And that doesn’t even make sense because I’m Canadian! And this book is so very much about midwestern America! And yet, here we are, and I am head over heels for this book and its style.
Hoosier Daddy is funny, but in a way that is smart and quirky, and I found myself constantly grinning or laughing. The locals in the story aren’t very educated and they are very peculiar, but it never makes a mockery of them. This story has so much heart and was clearly written with a lot of love, because it would have been so easy to make a bunch of caricatures instead of characters.
The first person narration works so perfectly because it feels like the reader is sitting at a table at Hoosier Daddy while Jill tells them the whole story of how she met and fell in love with El. By giving it that conversational feel, the authors cleverly skirt the showing vs telling rules of storytelling; what could have ended up as clumsy info dumping with a lesser author(s) is simply Jill is filling in the information I wouldn’t know as an outsider.
Also noteworthy is that this is a romance novel without any explicit sex and the kissing isn’t described in depth either. It’s absolutely perfect that way, though, because it wouldn’t be in Jill’s nature to kiss and tell, and I’m glad that Ann McMan and Salem West honoured that.
The narrator is wonderful and I wholeheartedly recommend grabbing the audiobook.
A romance between characters who feel like real people. Community. Twins with a mother who was a General Hospital fan, which especially tickles me because I was named after a character on All My Children. Inappropriate TV show theme songs played by a marching band. Crown Royal bags used as a sign of true love. Casey Horton. Oh my, Casey Horton.
This isn’t just one of my favourite lesbian books. This is one of my favourite books ever. Buy it, read it, love it.
Excerpt from Hoosier Daddy by Ann McMan and Salem West
“I’m still sorry,”I said.
“And I’m still a labor organizer,”she replied. “I guess that makes us strange bedfellows.”
I was glad to be sitting down.
“Are you always this direct?”
She shrugged. “It saves time.”
“Are you in a hurry?”
“On whatever is chasing me.”
“Whatever or whoever?”
“That depends, too.”
I looked down at the torque wrench I had been turning over and over in my hands. “Am I chasing you?”
“I hope so.”
I looked up at her.
“I promise to let you catch me,” she added.
I nearly dropped the wrench again.
Get It Online
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781612940991
- Publisher: Bywater Books
- Narrator: Christine Williams
- Audiobook Publisher: Audible Studios
- Ann McMan Online
- Ann McMan on Facebook
- Ann McMan on Twitter
- Salem West On Facebook
- Salem West on Twitter