Intelligent Corrine, abandoned by her mother, and artsy Jamie, forced to play football by a redneck father, both dream of leaving their podunk town and never looking back. Their shared love of literature and a dream of a better life bring them together and a romance blossoms between them in a secret place of their own in the steamy North Carolina woods. When Jamie is involved in the accidental death of a white girl, he’s terrified of his abusive father. Corrine takes the blame to protect Jaime, with dire consequences for herself and her dreams of the future. Her life in danger, Corrine’s left wondering if Jamie ever cared about her at all.
The first thing I noticed about the book was, of course, the cover. Simple and stunning at the same time. It always amazes me how the book cover people can draw a reader in by just a black and white portrait.
Hush Puppy starts out simple and sweet: a 17-year-old black girl in North Carolina meets a white boy her age and starts a friendship. Corrine’s life is difficult, but it’s not stereotypically tragic. It’s something that many readers can relate to, as is Jamie’s. Corrine handles it well, though. She tackles racism, poverty, absent parents, and peer pressure with admirable grace, usually taking the high road. She’s not a Mary Sue character, though: she has moments when that decision is so hard to make. In the end, she serves as a role model for real girls.
Jamie isn’t quite as strong as Corrine, taking his trials but blaming others for them. At this point, he doesn’t have high hopes for the future. Jamie is right in the middle of the toughest part of his life, and he’s well aware of it. There were a couple of moments in the book where I felt Jamie wasn’t worth the trouble he caused, but apparently the heroine of the book had more faith in him than I did.
The author built the suspense well, writing scenes that kept me expecting something tragic to happen. When nothing happened, I wasn’t disappointed, but I didn’t lose the suspense. I felt the foreshadowing that something WAS going to happen. And when it did, I really didn’t see it coming. Wow. The moment it happened, I couldn’t stop reading. At 1am, I finished the book.
There were a few unanswered questions, though. First of all, when the characters were going through their climactic struggle, Corrine felt that Jamie wasn’t telling her everything. I don’t remember seeing that resolved, where she found out what he hadn’t told her. Also, did Mr. Taft ever do anything to Jamie when the truth came out? Though I was left wondering these things, the absence of them didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the story.
This is something I would let my young adult daughter read. At one point, Corrine almost gets herself into a compromising situation, but she makes the right decision in the end. The author keeps the heroine out of the sex-traps that even other young adult authors seem to be miring their characters in. Since my daughter reads at a much higher level than her age, it’s often difficult to find books appropriate for her. Hush Puppy is. I’d recommend to all my parent-friends.
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?
Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.
Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!