Ginny knows that trouble is bound to find the Slocumb household this year. After all, she’s turning 45, and every 15 years brings a pregnancy or other heartache to the family. This year is no different: A child’s bones, dress and toy are found buried beneath their backyard willow tree. The scandalous discovery sends Ginny into the arms of a married former love; drives 30-year-old Liza—already stricken nearly silent by a stroke—to regain her language and expose the truth; and sends 15-year-old Mosey and her best friend out to unearth the mystery of her past.

New York Times best-selling author Joshilyn Jackson’s A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty shows the strength of these Mississippi women—and the ties that bind them. Alternately told in their three voices, the story is Southern in vernacular but modernized in a way that other Southern stories often are not. Like Jackson’s previous four novels, it presents the real South in a tale that is less interested in the stereotypical poverty, hackneyed regional idioms (think “knee-high to a grasshopper”) and unbearable humidity than in the lives of three fiercely brave women, who just happen to be Southern.

The Slocumb women’s choices aren’t always the right ones, but they know that even bad decisions are theirs to make. After all, sometimes the path to contentment is a winding one, and the journey chronicled in A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty includes a dangerous road trip, a forest sex lair, swimming pool physical therapy, poison, handfuls of pregnancy tests, drugs, text messages and attempted communication through photographs. But through it all, the Slocumbs have each other’s love and support.

Jackson’s engrossing fifth novel is a mystery, comedy and drama wrapped up in one.

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