“Backseat Saints” by Joshilyn Jackson

Jackson_BackseatSaintsTP1I bought this book because the opening line hooked me:

“It was an airport gypsy who told me that I had to kill my husband. She may have been the first to say the words out loud, but she was only giving voice to a thing that I’d been trying not to know for a long, long time.”

The first paragraph displayed a fresh, direct, authentic voice combined with compelling story telling craft and a willingness to tackle the most difficult emotions – the ones that bring us shame but also show is that we are alive, the ones that make us most ourselves, even if it’s a self we don’t like so much.

The rest of the book didn’t disappoint, it exceeded my expectations.

This isn’t just a sassy firecracker of a woman dealing with her abusive husband with witty lines and a smile on her face. This book crawls inside an abusive relationship and makes you live there. It makes you understand why she lives there and how she fuels the flames that burn her. This is physical and real and refuses to bow its head to politically correct clichés.

This book deals with broken people who cannot be fixed but may, perhaps be saved, even if they cannot save themselves.

It is about love and how that can get twisted up with hate and betrayal and loss and guilt.

It is a thriller that will keep you turning the pages and needing to know what happens next.

In this book, nothing is what it first seems but this is not the sleight of hand of the locked-room-murder mystery, this is about a slowly deepening perception of who these people are, what they mean to each other and what that does to them.

The thing I enjoyed most about the book is the sheer skill of the writing. Joshilyn Jackson slips back and forth along time lines and changes of perspective and variations of mood effortlessly. Her dialogue is perfect, her language is precise and unaffected. She is, literally, a joy to read.

This was the first novel of hers that I’ve read, but I now have “The Gods of Alabama” on order.


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