I haven’t actually read a Joshilyn Jackson novel since her first, gods in Alabama (pre-blog), but I have a couple of them hanging around in TBR Purgatory. However, I recently decided to skip over them in favor of reading her latest, A Grown-up Kind of Pretty, in audiobook, as narrated by Jackson herself.
Jackson is a perfect reader for her own work. Her fiction's Southern voice is unmistakable, and her southern-accented speaking voice reinforces that. She tells the Slocumb women's story in three voices--first-person narration alternating between grandmother Ginny and teenage Mosey, with occasional flashback chapters from daughter Liza's distanced, brain-damaged perspective--and succeeds in giving each a distinctive sound, defining them perhaps more effectively than the writing alone might.
I thought the character I'd relate to most in this novel would be Ginny--we're in the same age range and both entered motherhood when we were a bit too young for it, although Ginny's story of early parenthood is a lot more reminiscent of Lorelai Gilmore's--but frankly, there were times she irritated me. I really enoyed her granddaughter Mosey, though, a convincing and endearing teenager. But all that said, the plot of A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty hooked me more than the characters. Long-buried secrets seem to be a staple in Jackson's fiction, and she's come up with some good ones here, with twists that I wasn't able to anticipate. While I felt that the story eventually took a few turns into cliché-Southern-melodrama territory, for the most part I enjoyed the ride--which seems an appropriate thing to say about a book I "read" on my daily commute.