Between, Georgia is another delightful book by Joshilyn Jackson, whose quirky characters – as fiercely devoted to family and church as to hypocrisy and judgmentalism – come to raucous, passionate, humorous life under her deft authorial hand.
“Between” is the small-town home of two families, the Fretts and the Crabtrees, who have an ongoing feud with vicious and tragic potential, and Nonny Frett is at the center of it. Nonny, now thirty, was born to teenager Hazel Crabtree who didn’t want her, and so she was raised by Stacia Frett, who did. Hard feelings between the two clans have simmered ever since.
Stacia, deaf and later blind because of Usher’s Syndrome, was the primary parent to Nonny. Stacia’s twin, Genny, who was too nervous to be without Stacia, lived with them and acted as Stacia’s eyes and ears for the outside world. And close by them was the third sister, the sanctimonious Bernese, the only one of the three who married.
Nonny learned to sign at her mother’s knee, and later became an interpreter for ASL (American Sign Language) when she moved to Athens, Georgia with her husband Jonno. Jonno, a guy too cute for his own good, liked to spread his love around, especially because Nonny went back to Between so often. Even when, after ten years, Nonny filed for divorce, Jonno would come back and make love to Nonny, knowing she had a hard time (like all the other women) saying no to him.
Back in Between, Nonny has two other pulls on her heart: Fisher is the five-year-old grandchild of Bernese, who is raising Fisher because her teenaged mother (Bernese’s daughter) doesn’t want her. Fisher loves Nonny fervently, and Nonny loves her. And Henry Crabtree, a neighbor and owner of the town bookstore, thinks he and Nonny could be something more than friends.
Evaluation: The plot may sound complicated, but I haven’t touched on much of it at all! And yet it all falls in place readily as the comedy-drama unfolds. The town and the characters in it are so colorful and so complex, it’s a joy to read their story. They all have secrets, and in fact, if you’ve already read Gods in Alabama, you’ll feel a bit of déjà vu. I didn’t care: I loved similar characters once; why wouldn’t I love them twice? And this book has a significant difference: you get to see how a strong and loving bond works when one of the parties is blind and deaf, and the other is neither. It’s a revelation and a pleasure.
Published by Grand Central Publishing, 2006