Getting Mother’s Body

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Dec 232010

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Getting  Mother’s Body

Suzan-Lori Parks

So while bothering some poor staff member, probably my administrative assistant, in the back office the other day I see this jazzy black bound book with old west typeface writing just sitting there all lonely and forlorn on a book truck.  I pick it up.  “Hmmmm… The title sounds interesting,”  I think.  See, the glorious reading required for my college degrees killed my desire to read anything other than the latest statuses of my friends on Facebook or perhaps the blurb on the TV Guide.  But things are different now.  My staff forces me to read fiction.  So, I pick up this beautiful book for further investigation.

The story revolves around Billy Beede, a pregnant, unwed young woman from rural Texas in 1963.  Her lover, a traveling salesman from a faraway town who goes around selling coffins, promises he’ll marry her on “Thursday.”  Billy tracks him down only to meet his wife and his children. Billy is left in quite a predicament, and decides to seek out the treasure buried with her mother’s body, Willa Mae Beede, two states over in Arizona.  Having no resources of her own, Billy steals her mother’s lover, Dill Smile’s truck.  Her Aunt June and Uncle Teddy load up for the adventure, as well, and they all dream of the life Willa Mae’s treasure will bring them.  Billy, Aunt June, and Uncle Teddy are immediately pursued by Dill and Laz, a young man enamored of Billy who has set his heart to be her husband.  The ensuing adventures of the Beede family are enriching, and although they’re not always bright and sunny and funny and cute, the underlying theme is the importance of family and friends, and finding the inner strength to pursue and achieve the hopes and dreams of your heart.

Billy’s life is a hard one, and Parks does an excellent job of representing the experiences of the characters’ 1960’s rural Texas town world through their multiple points of view.  As the chapters progress, they are all from a different vantage point to the story and through the eyes of all the parties involved.  This unique insight offers an in-depth and multi-faceted view of the story as it unfolds.

Getting Mother’s Body is a great read, enjoyable from the beginning to the end, and will leave you with a smile and wanting more.  You can find it on our fiction shelves, among other wonderful reads.  : )