Every now and then a remarkable writer, following in the footsteps of great authors, comes along to re-energize American fiction. So it is with Joshilyn Jackson. Unmistakably influenced by three of America's pre-eminent Southern storytellers Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers and Flannery O'Connor Jackson, the author of gods in Alabama, now offers readers Between, Georgia, one of this decade's most commendable novels.

The action begins where else? in Between, Georgia, where the long-simmering feud between the expansive Crabtree and the resilient Frett families frequently disturbs the peace in the tiny town populated by fewer than a hundred people. The respectable Fretts have traditionally enjoyed rather secure lives as royal fish in the tiniest of ponds. On the other hand, the wary Crabtrees have long been viewed by the Fretts as squalid types who have fed along the bottom and spread illegitimately like kudzu. The one person who can now either exacerbate or mitigate the war that would tear up both families is 30-year-old Nonny Frett, a sign-language interpreter living in Athens, Georgia. As the biological daughter of one woman (a Crabtree girl), and as the more-or-less adopted daughter of another (a deaf and blind Frett woman), Nonny has, for as long as she can remember, been caught at the frontlines of the Crabtree-Frett battleground. Suddenly, when a deadly tragedy affects both families, Nonny knows that it is time to leave her husband Jonno in Athens and return to her mother Stacia's home at the dead end of Grace Street in Between. And it is there that everything for everyone might finally and forever change.

Between, Georgia is an exemplary novel by a singular writer who is in full command of the art of storytelling. Paradoxically, the story simultaneously overflows with gut-wrenching sadness and laugh-out-loud humor. Jackson's novel brilliantly explores abstractions redemption, love and grace through the most compelling characterizations to be found in contemporary fiction. Don't miss it! Tim Davis writes from Lillian, Alabama.

 

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