Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Review: The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion

I just finished reading The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg. Fannie is the author of Fried Green Tomatoes, one of my all time favorite stories. When I heard an interview with her on NPR a few weeks ago about this latest novel of hers, I was eager to read it. She didn't disappoint!

This book is the current read of my book group, The Novelties. We meet to talk about it next Wednesday. I'm looking forward to hearing what my girls have to say about it.

This, and Fried Green Tomatoes, are the only two novels of Flagg's I've read. Her writing style was consistent between the two. She goes back and forth between a historical time and current day, and as the story progresses the two plots intermingle, one solving the mystery of the other.

Our current day leading lady is Sookie, a 60-something year old woman with four grown children, a loving, supportive husband and a narcissistic, controlling mother. After a lifetime of putting up with and taking care of a mother like that, Sookie suddenly finds out she's adopted.

The historical timeline in the story is of the early 1940s, when three sisters served as female pilots in WWII (WASPS). The family consists of four sisters total, plus a male sibling. Their family ran a popular filling station in Pulaski, Wisconsin before the war.

As you can imagine, one of the sisters turns out to be Sookie's biological mother. True to Flagg's style, you may think you've put the pieces together well before the story ends, but, trust me, Flagg remains in control until the very end.

Also similar to Fried Green Tomatoes, the woman in the current day part of the story is a bit meek and lacks confidence, and the women in the historical piece are strong-willed and courageous. I'm not sure what to make of Flagg's tendency to portray current-day women as weak and broken.

I LOVE how pieces of true history are woven into the book. I learned things about females in WWII I didn't know before. The story of these women (even if they're fictitious) reminds us of the difficulties women incurred over the years in order for us to have the choices and freedom we have today.

If I were rating this book out of 5 stars, it would receive all 5. 

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