In Backseat Saints, by Joshilyn Jackson, Ro Grandee is multi-faceted to a fault. She’s a yielding wife, a mask-faced neighbor, an abused daughter, an abused wife, a secretly practicing Catholic and a smart, witty, fearless southern girl at the heart of it all. Ro begins her story deep in the middle of her marriage with her abusive husband, Thom. She flashbacks to her unhappy childhood – her mom left when she was little and her father remained to beat her on a regular basis. Although she escaped her childhood home in Alabama at eighteen after her long-time love, Jim, disappeared shortly before graduation, she’s struggled through relationships with the kind of men who didn’t treat her very well, the coup de grace being her current spouse, Thom Grandee. She’s biding her time, until she can find the courage to heed the advice of a gypsy who warns her that it is either Ro or her husband that will survive their relationship.
When an attempt to rid herself of Thom fails, Ro has to come up with Plan B. By using the secrets of her sweet neighbor, she does just that. While you might think this kind of book could be depressing and that Ro’s story may come off as hackneyed, it isn’t and it doesn’t. Ro is full of wit and passion and you can’t wait to read how she’s is going to escape from the mess she is in. The scenes between Ro and her husband are extremely well crafted and vividly believable. Abuse is not always black and white, and Ro’s relationship demonstrates it. Through it all, though, you feel confident that Ro IS going to get herself out of her situation, you almost count on it. It’s a pleasure, albeit somewhat edge of your seat, to follow the book to its conclusion. I have to admit that I did NOT read the author’s first triumph, Gods in Alabama. Now, though, since a few of the characters are briefly mentioned in Backseat Saints, I can’t wait to read it. I thank the folks at Grand Central Publishing for providing me a free copy of the book to review.