Review

Bad Girl Creek

by Jo-Ann Mapson

With all my compromised heart I love Sadie's farm.

Phoebe Thomas truly loves the flower farm bequeathed to her by her beloved Aunt Sadie, who raised her and loved her as a daughter. James, Phoebe's brilliant entrepreneur brother, wants to develop the land and sell building lots. Phoebe rebuffs him and plans to return it to its former success. But she will need help.  

Phoebe advertises for roommates to assist her with the physical labors of running a farm. Armed only with Sadie's gardening journal and the expertise of Florencio, the employee that remained, she enlists the aid of three women. They form a cooperative partnership and give the handicapped Phoebe more joy than her wildest imaginings will allow.  

The tall, beautiful Black girl, Ness, brings a dark secret, one that will cause her tears; and she brings baggage in the form of Leroy, her beloved horse, who slips into a stall in Phoebe's barn as if he'd always belonged. Nance Mattox is a southern belle who bleeds from a broken love affair with a journalist who forever disappoints her. She comes to the farm with Duchess, her Retriever. Beryl Anne's history includes time spent in Chowchilla prison for unintentionally stabbing her abusive husband to death, and she brings with her Verde, a parrot whose claim to fame is his constant string of cuss words. The animals lend unique character to the story; the sense of family would be incomplete without them.

Sadie's memory remains with Phoebe within the pages of the journal. Her instructions for planting and nurturing the flowers stimulate growth of a human kind when the girls become best friends. Pathos, humor, tears, and laughter all round out the emotions in Mapson's book. She artfully blends a canvas of individual hearts together into a masterpiece of unity and love. Her story is one of hope, growth, longing, resolution, and thanksgiving. BAD GIRL CREEK, however is not a hen party, as new and former male relationships enhance the women's lives with a richness before unrealized.  

The author has woven a story of broken relationships into a beautiful quilt of friendship. A motley assortment of characters makes BAD GIRL CREEK a must-read. Each of the women brings a unique tale to the household and, eventually, each lends the others strength from deep within herself.    

The narrative is presented in a first person, present tense style as each character is developed. The technique begins to fit like a surgeon's glove as the stories unfold. Each girl lives her story in the here and now of the moment being told. When thoughts drop onto the page, it is as if each is writing her own diary. BAD GIRL CREEK is the first novel of a trilogy. If further adventures of Phoebe and her roommates unfold with similar skill, the second and third books will gain fans for their author.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 21, 2011

Bad Girl Creek
by Jo-Ann Mapson

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 377 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • ISBN-10: 0743202562
  • ISBN-13: 9780743202565