After being abandoned as a young girl by her abused mother, Rose Mae Lolley is raised by her hard-drinking father who teaches her to be an expert shot and turns his fists on her as a replacement for her mother. As years pass by, Rose Mae has given up hope that her mother will return to their Alabama home, but she has held on to her mother’s Catholic practice of invoking the intercession of saints in times of need. Teenager Rose Mae is a beauty --- and a handful. She wants to escape the cycle of violence and shame, but she has nowhere to go.
The day after Rose Mae turns 18, she finds her courage. She packs her bags, empties her daddy’s wallet, steals his whiskey money, and takes her Pawpy’s pistol. She hops on a Greyhound bus and works her way west as a waitress.
While working at a restaurant in Texas, she catches the eye of handsome college football player Thom Grandee, whose puffy-bangs-wearing co-ed date delights in berating and embarrassing her. When Thom discovers Rose Mae trying to get even with his date, he goes along with her mischief. The attraction between Thom and Rose Mae begins, and it’s not long before the pretty and shapely waitress trades her uniform for a wedding ring. After her marriage, Alabama-born Rose Mae Lolley becomes Ro Grandee --- Texas housewife, part-time cashier in Thom’s father’s gun store, and a punching bag for her abusive husband.
After almost five years of marriage, in spite of regular trips to the emergency room with broken bones and being forced to wear long sleeves in the hot Texas summer to hide her bruises, Ro refuses to divorce Thom. It’s not because she loves him; he has threatened to kill her if she ever tries to leave. Isolated and friendless, except for her dog Fat Gretel and elderly neighbor Mrs. Fancy, Ro is resigned to her fate. However, her fate changes the day she drops off Mrs. Fancy at the airport and runs into an exotic-looking gypsy. During a tarot card reading, the gypsy warns Ro that if she does not kill her husband right away, he will end her life.
In BACKSEAT SAINTS, New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson (GODS IN ALABAMA) captures the essence of isolation, anger and despair of victims of abuse. Quirky characters, snappy dialogue and touches of humor combine to make Jackson’s latest a compelling story about abuse, sacrifice, love and redemption.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on December 22, 2010