cover image WE'RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle

WE'RE JUST LIKE YOU, ONLY PRETTIER: Confessions of a Tarnished Southern Belle

Celia Rivenbark, . . St. Martin's, $19.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-312-31243-5

After winning Southern women's hearts with her SEBA bestseller Bless Your Heart, Tramp in 2000, Rivenbark has penned a new—and equally sidesplitting—collection of essays, offering Northern and Southern sisters alike a woman's "take on those irksome little yuks in daily life." Although she warns certain readers (Yankees, namely) that they may need a Southern lexicon to decipher her folksy, down-home prose style, Rivenbark's focus on familiar topics like family, relationships and child rearing should appeal to most females, regardless of geography or age. Marked by a feisty, sarcastic tone and tempered with plenty of cries of "yoo hoo" and "Well, shit," even chapter titles (e.g., "Stop Watching Your Plasma TV and Start Selling Your Plasma: How to Become Honest-to-Jesus White Trash" and "Here Comes the Bride: Let's Just Get 'Em Hitched Sometime Before We See the Head") don't escape the author's wry humor. The most mundane situations become laugh-out-loud scenarios. When, for example, Rivenbark is confronted by the "Pre-School Nazis" and intimidating "granola moms" at her four-year-old's school, she admits asking her daughter to lie about what she had for breakfast (a foil-wrapped breakfast bar instead of the required "scrambled eggs, a bowl of real oatmeal—the kind you have to cook on top of the, uh, you know, stove—two slices of whole wheat toast and a glass of soy milk"). Rivenbark is a hoot, and her book will be best enjoyed while listening to the Allman Brothers Band and eating "a plate of, what else? collards and cornbread." Agent, Jenny Bent. (Jan.)

Forecast: Rivenbark's latest could hit regional lists, aided by a regional author tour, national print publicity, an author appearance at SEBA and a Book Sense campaign.