It is the story of first loves, being an outcast in a small community and learning that it is okay to be yourself even when your parents try to force you to be ‘normal’.
Jesse Aimes grows up in the 70s and 80s in a small town. Her father is the preacher at the biggest church in town and her mother is not local, making her a permanent outsider.
The story starts with Jesse’s mother and showcases her life as she marries this passionate man and moves back to his small town with him. It then switches to Jesse and most of the story is about her. She has a childhood best friend named Stephanie. The two are inseparable until Stephanie moves away. Jesse never stops missing her friend, but time goes on and Jesse discovers that she has an amazing talent for basketball. Soon she is the basketball star of her high school.
When Stephanie comes back to town Jesse starts feeling things she never has before. Through a tumultuous time where her father is preaching about how wrong it is for ‘one man to lie with another’, Jesse learns that sometimes coming out can be the best and worst thing.
I was cheering Jesse on and hoping she would get her happy ending.
I found it interesting how Lukas used Jesse’s mother to show just how difficult it was to be a stranger in a small town and loved the complexity of the mother’s character.
The Writing Style
This book is difficult to talk about because there were so many interesting things happening and Lukas was weaving such a deep, intricate, emotional tale.
Let me say this – I loved this book. Lukas wrote an incredible read. It is far more complex than normal Young Adult novels and yet I highly recommend it for all young lesbians out there or older lesbians – heck anyone who wants to read a good book.
This is the best book that Lukas has produced. It is well thought out and beautifully written. There is a lot of symbolism and moments that were so beautiful and so sad.
Although it is a tough journey it is also one with a happy ending.
I am a little sad that I won’t get to see what happens to Jesse and Stephanie when they are grownups. I am emotionally invested in them now.
This is a great book. It is well written, interesting and so worth the read. I loved the emotional turmoil because while it was filled with angst it was real angst. It was like Lukas held a mirror up to my childhood in a small town and said – here you go – take a look at all of the feelings you had.
Lukas managed to do what authors will spend a lifetime attempting to do – she wrote a perfect novel. I would not change a word.
Excerpt from Southern Girl by Renee J Lukas
Sometimes just the recollection of Stephanie’s face as she turned to smile at someone, even if was only her profile, the line of her jaw or the tumble of her hair down her shoulders – the picture in Jess’s memory could spark so much excitement she couldn’t contain it.
The secret box in her mind would open, her feelings spilling out with a smile that lit up her face. If anyone asked her what she was grinning about, she’d say, “Oh, somebody just told me something. Inside joke.”
Jess would see millions of things in her lifetime, but up to this point, none of them had held as much fascination for her as even a fleeting glimpse of this girl, of something as simple as her morning smile.
She wasn’t prepared, though, for what she was seeing on this rainy morning.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781594935053
- Publisher: Bella Books
Renee J Lukas Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Southern Girl by Renee J Lukas. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.