September 4th, 2014

new romantic.

Review: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Girls in Trucks
by Katie Crouch

As a daughter of a member of the Camellia Society, Sarah Walters is expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps. As a proper Southern debutante, Sarah learns how to dance and the rules of etiquette so central to the Society’s code. But Sarah just can’t conform to Camellia ways. She goes to school in the North and ends up moving to New York City, where she stumbles from one bad relationship to the next in a pot-induced haze. As she and her sister Camellias struggle to find their way in life, they learn the truth of the oft-repeated phrase, “Once a Camellia, always a Camellia”.

Or something. The book begins on a promising note, detailing all that a proper Southern belle must do in preparation for her debut at the ball. Sarah and the three other Camellias in her cohort may not be friends, strictly speaking, but their membership in the Camellia Society proves a bond that will last throughout their lives. These early chapters are fun and entertaining, a pleasant romp through life as one of Charleston’s elite.

Then Sarah grows older and the book starts losing focus. Her sister goes away to college at Yale and Sarah visits her, meeting her sister’s African fiancé and learning that she was invited to Yale so that she could be a witness to their surprise wedding. Some promising tension develops – is the fiancé flirting with Sarah whenever her sister’s attention is elsewhere? How will this conservative man and an intelligent modern girl from Charleston work? We don’t find out – after the chapter ends, Sarah’s sister disappears, and reappears only in passing in later chapters, where we learn that this relationship ultimately didn’t work out because the sister marries again. That the book develops the sister and the fiancé so carefully and then tosses them aside, never to be seen again, is very frustrating.

If there’s one thing to be learned about Sarah, it’s that she’s self-destructive and unable to learn from her mistakes. As she stumbles through sexual encounters and bad relationships and a never-ending addiction to smoking tobacco and pot, she devolves into a mess. Now, there ain’t nothing wrong with a flawed narrator, but the fact that Sarah just makes the same stupid decisions and never learns a thing or grows up in any way makes her extremely unlikeable.

The perspective changes several times, with little rhyme or reason. Sarah will be narrating in the first person, and then the next chapter will change to the third person for a while, then back to first person again. One random chapter is told from the point of view from a minor character, and doesn’t tie into the main plot at all because it’s all about this side character’s life and has nothing to do with Sarah Walters.

The book is also very choppy. I was listening to an audio version of the book, and the time jumps were so sudden and random that I thought some hack had done a dreadful abridgement of the story. Nope. The CDs were unabridged and I was hearing the book as it had been written. It was a series of episodic moments with little-to-nothing bridging the gaps between them.

1.5 out of 5 stars

To read more about Girls in Trucks, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the in:
2013: Utah Shakespeare Festival: The Tempest
2012: The Thirteen by Susie Maloney
2011: Flower in a Storm, Vol. 1 by Shigeyoshi Takagi
2010: The French Blue by Richard Wise
2009: News: Library Goes All-Digital
2008: Guernica by Dave Boling