Friday, June 13, 2014

A Bygone Era: Review of The Right Thing

About this Book:
On a scorching August day in 1963, seven-year-old Annie Banks meets the girl who will become her best friend. Skinny, outspoken Starr Dukes and her wandering preacher father may not be accepted by polite society in Jackson, Mississippi, but Annie and Starr are too busy sharing secrets and playing elaborate games of Queen for a Day to care. Then, as suddenly as she appeared in Annie's life, Starr disappears.
Annie grows up to follow the path ordained for pretty, well-to-do Jackson women--marrying an ambitious lawyer, filling her days with shopping and charity work. She barely recognizes Starr when they meet twenty-seven years after that first fateful summer, but the bond formed so long ago quickly reemerges. Starr, pregnant by a powerful married man who wants her to get out of town, has nowhere to turn. And Annie, determined not to fail her friend this time, agrees to drive Starr to New Orleans to get money she's owed.

During the eventful road trip that follows, Annie will confront the gap between friendship and responsibility;between her safe, ordered existence and the dreams she's grown accustomed to denying.

Moving, witty, and beautifully told, The Right Thing is a story of love and courage, the powerful impact of friendship, and the small acts that can anchor a life--or, with a little luck, steer it in the right direction at last.

My Comments:
Who are you?  Are you the person you want to be?  Are you the person your family wants you to be?  Are you the person your friends think you are?  All of these questions are dealt with by Annie Banks in this book.  Annie grows up in an establishment family in Jackson Mississippi (which is referred to several times as a small town).  Her childhood best friend is Starr, who is most definitely not part of the social elite.  Starr's family left town in the middle of the night and the girls never saw each other again until they were adults.  One morning Annie had yet another negative pregnancy test. That afternoon she went to a ritzy boutique to buy a dress for the law firm party and she runs into Starr, who is pregnant and recently dumped by her society paramour.  Annie agrees to take Starr to New Orleans that night; a decision that will change her life in many ways.

While Annie is part of the social elite in Jackson--an Ole Miss Chi O, a debutante, a doctor's daughter, she is unhappy with the role of lawyer's wife and doesn't really like most of her "friends".  Her life seems perfect, or at least not too bad, and honestly, her life isn't all that bad-this isn't a book about an abused woman--but Annie feels like she spends all her time trying to make other people happy with who she is.  She is 35 years old and a size zero.  She runs with the right crowd and does the right charitable things, but who is she?

Annie's mom is an interesting character.  Through Annie's eyes, her mother is distant and far too worried about what other people think--but even Annie sees glimpses of a deeper woman, and that the end we find out why Annie's mom is the way she is.

My favorite character was Aunt Too-Tai, who is a farmer who wears men's clothing, and who I suspect had something going with her Black hired hand.  

The book alternates between 1963 and 1990, between Starr's childhood and her adult life.  There are a few scenes that take place in the 1970's as well. Sometimes this was a little confusing, but for the most part it worked.  There were a couple of times Amy Connor got her period details wrong.  For example she had people drinking Diet Coke in the 1970's when there was no such thing.  Still, it was an interesting look at the lives of the upper middle class in Jackson (and I suspect other places) in the 1960's, as seen through the eyes of one of them, but one who didn't quite fit.

You may have noticed I have a new button on the right sidebar, proclaiming I'm a "W" blogger. That means I'm an alumna of Mississippi University for Women, and I've joined with other alums to form a blogger group.  My alma mater, The W, is mentioned in this book. 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B+


  1. Always fun to find an unexpected W sighting! :)

  2. I like your aside about Jackson as a "small town." I live in a town of 108,000, but I grew up in a town of 12,700 something, which was the largest by far in a 20 mile radius. My son called our city a "city" and had his hand slapped by his teacher. I told him he was right. We live in a small city. :)


View My Stats