Saturday, July 24, 2010

Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles

Roseflower Creek, 2EIn the past few months, I think I have become a little more sensitive to the hurts of the world I read about in books. Suffering, pain and murder didn’t use to upset me the way they do now. Unfortunately, because of this recent sensitivity, I have to be careful what I read to not get that depressed feeling. Especially if in the end, there isn’t a lot of redeeming going on in the story, at least not enough to cheer me up a bit. I hate to say it but Roseflower Creek by Jackie Lee Miles was one such novel.

The story is one of Lori Jean, a little girl who dies in the beginning and recounts from heaven her life and events that led to her untimely and very brutal death. Lori Jean’s life wasn’t a so called bed of roses and she went through more hardship in her 10 years than many people do go through their whole life. Her father left when she was 5 and her mother had never been the same since. The only reasonable person in Lori Jean’s life was her grandmother but then she died and the girl’s life went pretty much downhill. Her mother got married to Ray, a man that was an alcoholic, a thief and pretty much as cruel as they come. He would beat up both Lori Jean and her mother and given that the action takes place in a 1950’s rural South, no one cared or wanted to do anything about it. Roseflower Creek is pretty much a recounting of what happened to Lori Jean and why she died when she did. It is also, or maybe more importantly, a portrait of her tenacious spirit and child’s capacity for looking for good and hope despite of the bad cards she was dealt in life.

Ms. Miles penned a very sad book. I’m not sure that it was her intent but that’s how it came out. Lori Jean’s tragic death is not the only one in this story. There is a lot of sorrow and pain and unfairness happening. Almost too much for such a short novel. The worst part of it all was that there really wasn’t anything good happening to counter the bad. I don’t know about you guys, but even while reading the darkest novel, I like to know that there is at least some small happy ending and some sense in the suffering. And I couldn’t find any in Roseflower Creek.

The writing itself however, is really, really good. If you don’t mind any of what I’ve written about the story, you’ll definitely enjoy it. Ms. Miles did a wonderful job with the accent and I could literally hear myself speaking with that charming Georgian drawl while reading. Because, I couldn’t resist the temptation to actually try and read some dialogue aloud. Another great thing about the book were the characters, especially Lori Jean’s and her stepfather Ray’s. I loved Lori Jean with all my heart (maybe that’s why I was so sad when life weren’t good to her) and I hated Ray with as much intensity as I love the girl. I am not an aggressive person but I just wanted to crawl into the story and strangle him myself, that’s how much I despised him. The author showed her true skill here. Despite the small size of the book, the characterization was rich, detailed and a pleasure to follow.

As you can see, Roseflower Creek has a lot of positive going for it: the writing, the characters and especially the life in the ‘50s South. If the sadness and suffering doesn’t bother you all that much, you should definitely reach out for it because Lori jean is one girl you’ll want to meet, you’ll just wish she’d never died.

I received Roseflower Creek from the publisher for review.