Grady Hendrix | pub: April 2020 | 400 pages
I’m not sure what in the toxic masculinity and sexism did I just read? Is this like, a drinking game? Every time we identify a misogynistic or anti-feminist passage, we take a drink? Or shoot ourselves? Or…maybe, shoot a man? Welcome to some poor dudes version of White Southern Housewives of 1990. 🤦🏾♀️
We meet our main character, Patricia, fretting over the nights book club meeting because she hasn’t read the book. Seems like a no brainer to get the Cliff Notes and move on but…best you figure out now, you’ll need to avoid common sense and independent thought for anything to make sense in this world. Instead, we learn about all the reasons why she couldn’t possibly have read the book. Turns out, its just the standard ‘my kids are busy and bad’. Besides, her demented mother-in-law is visiting for several weeks and needs more care than expected and, the darn book is boring.
We find out no one in the club has the read the darn boring book and they’ll all need to manage the wrath of Marjorie, who sounds like your typical Karen/HOA Monster/overindulged wife/High school queen bee, high off her own supply. The other members of the book club are all your typical shades of well intended white suburbia: one is harsh spoken, another, super religious by demand of her husband, one’s ‘new money’ and country as hell, all seem to be wives of influential upper middle class men of their small community. Nothing interesting ever happens to any of them until one night, Patricia is violently attacked by a neighbor. The neighbor eventually dies from wounds she sustains that night and a relation shows up to take care of her estate. Coincidently, at the same time, little black children start disappearing across town and the ladies decide to investigate. But, only because they suspect a neighbor is responsible.
Pros: At its very core, its a good story. Suburban, true crime book club uses resources to attempt to solve local crime. The characters are interesting and colorful and have great conversations. You will find yourself laughing out loud at a lot of the dialogue. I love that the author addresses the likely racism, sexism and chauvinism that may have been prevalent at the time. Descriptions of clothes and furniture were dead on for the 90’s.
Cons: When you’re not laughing at dialogue, you will likely be cringing. Though this is a vamprie story, the only real horror found in the book is the verbal and mental abuse displayed by these men. The scene where the husbands face off with the wives over just listening to them talk about there suspicions was horrific. They were all equally condescending and brutal. The fact that the husbands, at one point, befriend someone their wives feel so strongly against is disgusting. Even deeper, the idea that a southern, white, gay, male author betrays the 90’s white woman as understanding of the truth but, only able to make decisions based on the ideals of her husband – perpetuates the idea that white women are untouchable and cannot be held accountable for the sins of their fathers, husbands and sons.
The middle portion of the book dragged considerably for me. Basically, once all the characters are known, both good and bad, we have the showdown between the couples and then…nothing. I mean for CHAPTERS we are subjected to the ego’s and philandering of the male characters and the wives rushing around baking casseroles, being angry at one another and denying what they’ve seen with their own eyes, because their husbands said to do so. 🙄🤦🏾♀️ There is some deeper meaning there – I’m just not reaching for it. Let the Karens fend for themselves hunty.
Overall, good weekend read. These days we’re all stressed from our realities, this is a definite escape from reality. I also live in the south and all of these characters are relatable to friends and family. In terms of recommendations, this lands high on my list of unproblematic, recommended reads to friends needing a break. If the toxic masculinity becomes too much – read up to the husband/wife showdown, then skip ahead to the last, maybe, 4 chapters. Lol. That will make it a good, QUICK, read. I promise, you wont miss any egotistical grandstanding you can’t catch up with on your 11pm news tonight. #Shade #Goodbook 26 of 42!
Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.