cover image Backseat Saints

Backseat Saints

Joshilyn Jackson, Author . Grand Central $24.99 (344p) ISBN 97

Readers willing to stick through a slow beginning will be rewarded in Jackson's eventually riveting fourth novel (after The Girl Who Stopped Swimming ). When abused Rose Grandee isn't getting up the nerve to do something about her violent husband, Thom, she reminisces about high school sweetheart Jim Beverly, who once promised to kill Rose's alcoholic father. Rose is also consumed with memories of her mother, who abandoned her when she was a little girl. During what seems like a chance meeting, Rose receives a tarot card reading and is told she'll have to choose between her husband's life and her own, though Rose later realizes, conveniently for the plot, that the card reader is her estranged mother. Egged on by the prophecy, Rose searches out Jim and plans on manipulating him into killing Thom, leading to a tense final section that crescendos with an ending appropriate for a woman with so much fight in her. Though Jackson does a good job conveying Rose's uncertainty and ambivalence, the initial sounding of these themes comes off as redundant and overly long; later, Jackson's writing becomes kinetic, reflecting her heroine's metamorphosis. (June)