Waiting to see the upcoming summer movie The Help? Try some Sweet Jiminy
I had not read any Kristin Gore’s novels (yes, she is Al’s daughter) but always heard good things about her Capitol Hill stories. Her latest book is not a peek inside the beltway political page-turner, but rather a meandering short novel set in rural Mississippi. Sweet Jiminy is about a young woman who travels back to her grandmother’s rural town after dropping out of law school. Jiminy is her name but the most of the plot revolves around another long gone Jiminy, daughter of a friend of her grandmother’s and the person the protatonist is named for. Jiminy, the law school dropout, never got a chance to meet her because she died before she was born and it is her untimely death that has haunted their families for years.
Jiminy’s summer escape starts out slow and to kill time she explores her grandmother’s attic. It’s there she discovers her dead grandfather’s journal which has some cryptic entries about his carpentry business partner Edward who was African-American. Jiminy has heard about Edward and his wife Lyn, who is now her grandmother’s housekeeper. Edward and Lyn and their daughter Jiminy were like family and it was a complete tragedy to everyone when Edward and Jiminy were killed in an automobile accident in the local river. There was always suspicion that foul play and the local white supremacy group was involved, but in this small rural community it was not discussed. Jiminy decides after becoming friends with Lyn’s nephew Bo that this secret needs to be uncovered. She enlists the help of Texas attorney Carlos Casteverde who has a reputation for bringing justice to old civil rights cases. As the investigation starts, Jiminy and Bo are becoming more than friends, but the racial tension in town makes their budding relationship the subject of local gossip and soon turns things sour. Jiminy becomes intent on finding out what happened to her namesake and the results turn the town upside down.
There are many twists in and turns in the conclusion of this book and the secrets of the past bring some intense scenes between all the characters. Kristin Gore was interviewed on the Today Show about Sweet Jiminy. She talked about the prevalence of situations like this in southern towns and how tragedies are buried to keep people from getting hurt. Good writing and an interesting, discussible plot makes Gore’s newest novel perfect for a summer book group title or even just a poolside read.