Synopsis: A Southern Place is a moving book that is expertly written! Mary Jane Hatcher–everyone calls her Mojo–is beat up bad. She’s in the ICU of Phoebe Putney, the largest hospital in South Georgia, barely able to talk. How Mojo goes from being that skinny little girl in Nolan, a small forgotten town along the Flint River, to the young woman now fighting for her life, is where this story begins and ends.
Mojo, her mama Delores and her Uncle Calvin Mullinax, like most folks in Nolan, have just tried to make the best of it. Of course, people aren’t always what they seem, and Phil Foster–the handsome, spoiled son of the richest man in the county–is no exception.
As the story of the Mullinax family unfolds, Mojo discovers a family’s legacy can be many things: a piece of earth, a familiar dwelling, a shared bond. And although she doesn’t know why she feels such a bond with Phil Foster, it is there all the same, family or not. And she likes to think we all have us a fresh start. Like her mama always said, the past is all just water under the bridge. Mojo, after going to hell and back, finally comes to understand what that means. (Copy provided by WOW!)
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I am pleased to have been given the opportunity to take part in this book tour sponsored by WOW! Women on Writing by reading and reviewing A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little. Additionally, the author and WOW! will be giving away a copy of A Southern Place to one lucky commenter.
Drawn to this book because of my southern roots, I felt myself gritting my teeth and standing taller to help Mary Jane Hatcher, better known as Mojo, fight the next battle. Not that Mojo didn’t have enough spitfire in her to do it on her own because she did. I have friends from my days in the south who lived and survived the life that Elaine Drennon Little paints so well in A Southern Place.
Little opens the book with Mojo fighting for her life, and that is where the story ends some 24 chapters later. Mojo’s story covers a mere six years, 1989-1995, but began long before the opening chapter. Her family before her had never had it easy — always on the outside looking in, never having quite enough, always looking for acceptance.
Little has taken Mojo’s story and expertly shares it with her readers in such a way that we know something good will come to Mojo. Yet each time a glint appears on the horizon of Mojo’s existence someone or something comes along to destroy her hopes and often what she believes might be love.
Mojo’s character, who grows from a skinny young girl to a woman standing on her own, is cleverly crafted with Little’s unique ability to draw a visual on the page of an amazing and strong creation.
Then, as she transitions back in time to share Mojo’s beginnings with us, we meet Mojo’s mama, Delores, and Uncle Calvin. We are given the true picture of how family before her lived — Delores working in a factory sewing women’s underwear and Calvin working the land but not his own, someone else’s. And their parents before them working hard and scrabbling for everything they had.
The tragedies in Delores and Calvin’s lives shape the future for Mojo. Little’s packing of Mojo’s roots between the opening and closing chapters as she does provides a perfect story arc. We begin in tension, we level out as we learn the background for Mojo’s existence and life, and we end in tension. I can’t express strongly enough how well planned this book is. Swiftly moving, story to story, character to character, A Southern Place never leaves the reading wanting for more, because more waits on the next page.
Little has authentically and genuinely plucked the south of this time period accurately out and placed it in her debut novel. Her characters are also authentically created and developed, and Little’s use of the dialect could not be more accurate. A joy to read!
Reading Mojo’s story and then stepping out of her world and back into my own was somewhat like culture shock and awakening. Life between 1989 and 1995 in some parts of our country haven’t changed that much. There are still Mojos fighting to survive and to live without enough to raise their families. Little’s portrayal of Mojo, however, gives hope and encouragement to anyone who has had or is experiencing struggles in everyday life.
MY RECOMMENDATION: A Southern Place is an interesting look back at the South of the ’80s and 90s from the perspective of a character who could be classified as a have-not in the purest sense of the term. Yet, Little uses that life to show the strength of character and what it can do for anyone who is willing to take a chance. This book is a quick read and perfect for a rainy day or a summer weekend, before they’re all gone!
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MEET THE AUTHOR:
Image provided by WOW!
Adopted at birth, Elaine lived her first twenty years on her parents’ agricultural farm in rural southern Georgia. She was a public school music teacher for twenty-seven years, and continued to dabble with sideline interests in spite of her paid profession. Playing in her first band at age fourteen, she seemed to almost always be involved in at least one band or another. Elaine’s writing began in high school, publishing in local newspapers, then educational journals, then later in online fiction journals. In 2008 she enrolled in the MFA program at Spalding University in Louisville, where upon graduation finished her second novel manuscript. Recently retiring after eleven years as a high school chorus and drama director, Elaine now lives in north Georgia with her husband, an ever-growing library of used books, and many adopted animals.
Find out more about this author by visiting her online:
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/elaine.d.little
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I was provided a copy of A Southern Place by WOW! Women on Writing and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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If you would like to enter for a chance to win a copy of A Southern Place by Elaine Drennon Little, simply leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
If you are reading this anywhere other than my blog, such as on Facebook, in an email, or on Goodreads, please hop on over to my blog, Found Between the Covers. Only comments left on my blog will be entered into the giveaway.
The deadline for this contest is Wednesday, August 28, 2013, at noon. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and will be contacted privately via email as well as an announcement in a blog post here next week.
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UP NEXT: On Friday, August 23rd, I’ll be sharing with you what’s in my reading line-up for the next few weeks and months. Be thinking about your own and share with the rest of us.