A Good Hard Look: Fabulous Southern Fiction

BlogHer Review
I have a soft spot for books set in the South. I suppose this is strange, considering I was raised in New England by Midwestern parents. But if a story has characters that speak with a Southern lilt and just so happen to live in a close knit small town under weeping willows, I can't resist it. Add to that a world famous author as one of the characters, and I'm sold. So it's no surprise how much I loved A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano: Southern setting, close knit community, and added to that is Flannery O'Connor as one of the characters. What's not to love?

That's right -- Flannery O'Connor is a character in this novel. Napolitano wove this famous character seamlessly into the story, making her story accurate to her real life history while adding an inner life that felt true and real. But Flannery's story is just one of several that intersect in the small town during a just a few short years we see them. Each character makes choices and these choices have consequences. And while it's frustrating as a reader to wish for a character to turn left instead of right, to say no instead of yes (or just the opposite) these choices are entirely true to life at its messiest.

I could not put this book down. I was fascinated by all of the characters, but particularly by Cookie and Melvin, the newlyweds. Her desire for perfection, and his lack of desire for just about everything could have been cloying, but instead were sympathetic. I wanted them to work things out, to work through things, even though it seemed they never did actually communicate with each other through most of the book.

A fantastic novel that I know I'm going to read again. I highly recommend A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano for anyone who loves Southern fiction, Flannery O'Connor, or just a well written novel.


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