The Story of Sassy Sweetwater by Vera Jane Cook
Published: January 20, 2012
E-book, 289 pages
Young Sassy Sweetwater (Sassy = attitude and Sweetwater = a stream) and her beautiful, unwed mother, Violet McLaughlin, return to the family home in South Carolina after being away for 13 years. There, Sassy first meets her rich, highly dysfunctional family. Upon meeting the respective family members from Grandma Edna to Aunt Elvira to Uncle Seth to Cousin Kyle, the reader senses that there is some kind of mystery in the background of this family. Why does Kyle “act” retarded but reads works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and Keats? What does the small cross marking a burial place away from the family cemetery mean?
Almost immediately, I felt an undertone of unease which was justified when Uncle Liam returns home, shows an unnatural interest in Sassy, assaults her and is killed by a family member. She becomes estranged from her mother for years. Horrible family secrets gradually emerge and Sassy’s life is changed forever. She grows up, has an illegitimate child, two unsuccessful marriages, then marries the love of her life and eventually finds a kind of peace. It is a bitter-sweet story of a life fully lived. Woven throughout this tapestry are the threads of racial prejudice.
My favorite character is Grandma Edna, the matriarch of the family. She’s the proverbial “tough cookie” who has endured a difficult life with a wayward, domineering husband. Despite that, she has managed to keep her family intact, more or less, and proves to have a heart of gold. At first, she seems aloof and distant but turns out to be Sassy’s greatest supporter over the years. Matters take a murderous turn and Grandma Edna takes justice into her own hands when the family is threatened by evil forces in the person of her estranged husband. I was charmed by Sassy at the beginning, but was less so as she came of age. Not only was she promiscuous, but she made unwise choices in men that caused her endless problems.
This book is full of descriptions about the South, the landscapes and the people. Hear the southern drawl when Sassy says “Mama had the saddest eyes, like a wounded dog on the side of the road that you really want so badly to help, but you can’t offer your services without the risk of being bitten.” “Mama said that all men are fools for women, but for drop-dead gorgeous redheads, men are lame-brained idiots.” About Uncle Seth, “he was lanky, like some old tree limb hanging by a prayer.” About Grandma Edna, “so many lines ran across her face, like mazes in a dirt field that never met up or led anywhere.”
The cover of this e-book is quaint and nostalgic. It could have been a great read, despite the adult themes, had it not been filled with f-bombs and other expletives. This book may appeal to readers of Southern fiction, civil rights issues, and strong women.
Note: This book is rated P = profanity.
Reviewed by Sandra
Disclosure: Thanks to Vera Jane Cook for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.