A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Grand Central • $24.99
on sale January 25, 2012

The race for best novel of January 2012 is heating up: Joshilyn Jackson's latest book just crossed my desk. Trouble comes for three generations of Slocumb women—Ginny, 45; Liza, 30; and Mosey, just 15—every 15 years, so Ginny feels a sense of foreboding even before her daughter Liza has a stroke and a casket filled with tiny bones is dug up from their backyard. But this trouble is bigger than an unintended pregnancy or even a broken heart. As it comes to threaten her entire family, Ginny must decide what lengths she will go to to protect those she loves.

The opening paragraphs illustrate everything readers love about Jackson's writing: the lyrical Southern cadence, strong imagery and unique diction that immediately brings her characters to life.

My daughter, Liza, put her heart in a silver box and buried it under the willow tree in our backyard. Or as close to under the tree as she could anyway. The thick web of roots shunted her off to the side, to the place where the willow's long fingers trailed down. They swept back and forth across the troubled earth, helping Liza smooth away the dig marks.

It was foolish. There's no way to hide things underground in Mississippi. Our rich, wet soil turns every winter burial into a spring planting. Over the years Liza's heart, small and cold and broken as it was, grew into a host of secrets that could ruin us all and cost us Mosey, Liza's own little girl. I can't blame Liza, though. She was young and hurt, and she did the best she could.

And after all, I'm the damn fool who dug it up.

What are you reading this week?

You can find reviews of Jackson's previous four novels on BookPage.com.

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