Do you need a light, easy, "feel-good" story??
Then this is it!
What a fun book. It is set in Mississippi in 1964 and in 1990.
Annie Banks is a skinny, rich, "only child" spoiled southern girl. She is 7 years old and being raised by her father who is a pediatrician, and her mother who is the "perfect genteel southern lady". Annie is always in trouble though for doing the wrong thing, for causing trouble, and for being irresponsible.
Her best friend Starr Dukes is the only child of a mother who abandons her and her strange preacher-Pentecostal father who is constantly on the move and dirt poor. They are not really accepted into "proper polite society" in Jackson, Mississippi.
However, Annie and Starr get along great and are always making up stories and playing Queen for a Day with their Barbie dolls. They also get into all kinds of mischief and have many fun adventures. When Annie can sneak away! They are best friends although Annie's grandmother and mother do not agree that they should be!
Annie eventually grows up to be the wife of a very prominent lawyer in Jackson. She ends up filling her days with shopping excursions, helping at the Ladies League and smoking cigarettes and drinking black coffee to stay thin. She is bored with her life. She has done what is expected of her. Or so she thinks.
One day she is shopping in the exclusive Maison-Dit clothing store when she runs into Starr. It has been 27 years since they have seen each other. One night, back when they were just 7 years old in 1964, Starr just up and disappeared with her daddy. And Annie and she have never been in touch since.
Starr is pregnant and has been having an affair with a powerful married man. He wants her to leave town but she has no where to turn. She also has no money except for some that a friend of hers who lives down in New Orleans is keeping safe for her.
Annie is so determined that she is going to do the right thing for Starr this time. So she offers to drive Starr to New Orleans. And thus, a road trip occurs. Annie will need to face the gap between her friendship and responsibilities at home; she will need to face her safe and perfectly kept existence with the dreams that she longs to pursue and has become used to denying for herself.
This was a great read. The humor in it is so refreshing and there are serious parts as well. The ending of what happens with Starr is brilliant and funny.
The main themes are centered around powerful friendships, love, and courage.
The contrast between the 1960s/1970s with 1990 was interesting especially as I grew up in that era, having been born in 1959.
Even though Annie is portrayed as rich and spoiled, I ended up feeling sorry for her. She truly is a "poor little rich girl". I loved how brave she was in the end with facing her reality and with pursuing her own dreams and getting away from an emotionally abusive husband even though it would shock the townspeople.
I didn't like her mother at all in the story until the very end of the book when the author has Annie confront her mother about her situation (which I don't want to divulge as I don't want to be a spoiler) and Annie's mom begins to tell her own story of growing up. It was very heart warming and fit perfectly with the plot. I ended up loving the mother!
I liked how the author brought out the points about responsibility and doing the right thing and how sometimes those look different.
I have always said I don't think I could ever live in the south with all the prejudices down there but this book has characters that overcome those snobbish prejudices and Annie eventually does do the right thing.
In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.