Kay Sloan The Patron Saint of Red Chevys

ISBN 13: 9781579621728

The Patron Saint of Red Chevys

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9781579621728: The Patron Saint of Red Chevys
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After blues singer Bernice Starling is stabbled to death in a small Mississippi town in 1963, her two young daughters attempt to find her killer and are met with a host of suspects, including their mother's lover, a local bigot, and their own father.

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From School Library Journal:

Adult/High School–Jubilee and her sister are young teens in a small Mississippi town in 1963 when their father discovers their mother fatally stabbed in her lovingly maintained red 1948 Chevy truck. Bernice's jazz singing and tolerant views on race had made her unpopular locally, and rumors about the murder persist for years as the family struggles with the aftermath of the tragedy. Jubilee takes charge of the Chevy with its hula-dancer dashboard ornament (Bernice's "patron saint"), and the vehicle becomes her surrogate mother and magic carpet as she grows up. Through such experiences as a visit to the State Fair with other white teens on what turns out to be "Negro night," the girl becomes certain that she will never fit in here. Seeing a magazine photo of students in Berkeley, CA, she determines to go there. At first, she is as much an outsider in Berkeley as she had been in Mississippi, but eventually she finds friends and gains new perspective on her family. Sloan captures amazingly well the spirit of involvement and confident experimentation that supercharged the Bay Area in the 1960s, and she paints vivid portraits of the Northern California landscape that formed the background to that cultural movement. The broader context of America in transition is equally well portrayed. Teens will enjoy Jubilee's strong voice and will identify with her search for her heart's true home during years of wrenching change.–Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Part quirky coming-of-age story, part murder mystery, this debut tracks the efforts of a Mississippi girl to deal with her mother's sudden death. Jubilee Starling is in junior high when her mother, flamboyant, free-spirited Bernice Starling, a blues and jazz singer, is found stabbed to death in her truck. The most likely suspect is Levi Litvak, the handsome local weatherman who also happens to be Bernice's lover, but when Litvak dies right after the murder in a car accident, the case goes cold. Sloan turns her attention to her young protagonist, penning a series of heartfelt but somewhat lifeless scenes that strive to capture local color, including a class field trip to a prison, a freak show at the county fair and a tornado that briefly touches down in the small Gulf Coast town. The novel gains momentum when Jubilee earns a scholarship to Berkeley and Sloan chronicles her cross-country drive to college with her father. Those passages and the initial college scenes resonate with an emotional poignancy that is missing from much of the Gulf Coast material, although the resolution to the murder subplot turns out to be anticlimactic. Sloan shows flashes of talent, but this is an uneven first novel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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