Once in a while we stumble upon a book that catches our attention, same as if you’re at the beach and some fool yells SHARK! A Home for Wayward Husbands did just that. The title caught my eye in a Facebook discussion. I clicked on the link. It took me to a giveaway. I haven’t won anything since fourth grade and that was a box of chocolate covered cherries for going to holy communion more than any other student in class. I was such a good girl! La! I won a copy of A Home for Wayward Husbands.
Mercy! The book knocked my socks off. I could not stop reading. Didn’t walk the dog, fold clothes, or answer the phone. First time author. I don’t know her. Never heard of her in my life, but I know small town America. She captures it like flypaper does gnats. The book is southern–if you can call Texas southern. Small town folks, like where I live–where folks put swayback horses in their front yards to graze. Washing machines on the back porch. Petunia beds made out of old tires. Fried chicken on Sunday after church. This book is all about the kinds of people who live miserable interior and exterior lives but keep on keeping on, sidestepping success as if they might get snake bit.
One of the five star reviews on Amazon mentioned A Home for Wayward Husbands has the flavor of a Fannie Flagg novel. Well, it does and it doesn’t. Flagg takes the sharp edges off of her Southern characters, and gives us happy endings. This author leaves all of those gloriously skewed rough edges; she gives us life. The folks in this book remind me of the folks in The Beans of Egypt, Maine, but I like the characters better in A Home for Wayward Husbands because they are wholly without a scrap of pretension. Nope, the author’s voice in this book–and it is a voice like you won’t believe—reminds me of Mark Twain’s Letters from Earth. Caustic. Start there. Cherry writes Atlanta, Texas same way Zora Neal Hurston writes Sawley, Florida in Seraph on the Suwanee. Now, you can add in a dash of Fannie Flagg and Eudora Welty. But only a dash, because this new author has a voice uniquely her own. Utterly riveting.
Girl who wrote the book is Johnee Cherry. Don’t expect perfection. Just jaw-dropping raw talent.