Review: Bound South: A Novel

Bound South: A Novel, by Susan Rebecca White

The Down & Dirty

Louise has her hands full. Her teenaged daughter has run amok, her son is retreating into teenaged angst, her maid's problems are her problems and her best friend is getting divorced. But these are Southern women, smack in the heart of Atlanta, and they deal with problems using two failproof weapons: humor and alcohol.

The Lit Crit

This debut novel by Susan Rebecca White is a pleasant addition to the growing Southern Lit genre. Told from multiple (female) viewpoints, White is at the top of her game in the snarky department and apparently no topic is off limits. Religion, adultry, student/teacher affairs, homosexuality and race relations in the south are all treated with equal honesty and wit.

Louise's relationship with her wild-child daughter is particularly refreshing and while sharp humor is the order of the day, White doesn't use it to sweep issues under the rug. Rather, humor is used for perspective, something most mothers need on a daily basis.

Louise and her husband, John Henry, are not perfect parents by any means. A product of their generation, they enable their children's dysfunctions at every turn, although you can hardly hold it against them:

"To be perfectly honest, San Francicso is a better place for her than Atlanta ever was. It suits her. It seemed that the moment she stepped off the plane and onto California soil she got her act together. She earned her GED, not that we're exactly beaming with pride over that, but then she enrolled at San Francisco State University. She's majoring in something called American Studies, although judging by what she's learning it should be called American Sins.

I don't mean to sound negative - I think it's important to learn about indigenous cultures and to take a skeptical stance towards government, and so on and do on - but I do sometimes get a little tired of being lectured so often by her on the Complicity of America in all things Evil...

...she seems to be okay. Of course we pay for her college classes, and John Henry sends her a small check each month to cover part of her rent, but other than that, she's on her own."

Bound South, by Susan Rebecca White
Bwahahahahah...A Reader's Respite thinks this last sentence is hysterical....

If there is any quibble to be had, it would be with the end of the novel, which had little (if any) conclusion. It was as if she just stopped writing. You turn the page, but that's it. One page the characters are at dinner and the next.....poof. The end.

Of course, not every novel needs a perfect, tightly-wrapped conclusion.

Perhaps it's an artsy thing I'm missing.

Our Recommendation

If you're a fan of southern lit or just appreciate the humor inherent in parenting, this is a fun book and certainly a worthwhile read. Enjoy the perspective this one offers!

Think you might like this book? Leave me a comment saying so and A Reader's Respite will draw a random winner next Monday, March 2 and send you the book.

Title: Bound South
Author: Susan Rebecca White
ISBN-13: 978-1416558675
368 pages
Publisher: Touchstone
Date: February 10, 2009

Other fabulous opinions about this novel:

S. Krishna's Books
Books and Cooks
Dew on the Kudzu


  1. I'm all over the southern way. I wasn't born here, but have acclimated quite nicely in the seventeen years I've been here. There ain't no better way to combat life than humor and alcohol! Hurricane parties! Skipping responsibilities and going to the beach! You gotta love it.

  2. I and my mom both love southern women stories. Sounds like it would fit in nicely in my Haywood Smith collection too so I would like to be entered in the drawing please :o)


  3. I love Southern lit. Having spent most of my life in the South, let me tell you, there is plenty of snarkiness here - it's just coated with sugar.

  4. I love the comment about snarkiness coated with sugar. Lord, that is so true. To trash someone the southern way, you always end the barbed statement with "bless her heart". For example, "She has an ass the size of Texas, bless her heart". Anyway, I digress. I came back to say that I would like to be entered into the contest!

  5. Have you ever tried Dorthea Benton Frank? She was tops with me in contemporaries - that is until I got into historicals and 19C lit.

  6. Nice review. I liked the extract, lots to relate to there. I generally like a southern setting, so I'll keep this on my radar.

    Oh! A contest! Sure enter me in this one. Thanks!!!!

  7. I've seen this around and definitely want to read it!


  8. Great review! Sugar-coated snarkiness is a Southern Gal's way!

  9. I call it the "grinning bastard" - smiling on the outside, snarky on the inside!

  10. Great review. There's something about Southern novels always attract me. I'd love to be entered.

    carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

  11. Sandy - Okay, the "bless her heart" thing had me in stitches this morning. That is so true and soooo funny. You know, I never understood why Sarah Palin grabbed that phrase...I'm an Alaskan born and bred, and I'm here to tell you that Alaskans do NOT use that phrase. I always thought she was pandering to the Southern vote with that phrase, LOL.

    Ladytinnk - I'm off to investigate Haywood Smith now!

    Kathy - and I do think snarkiness coated with sugar is the deadliest kind. ;)

    Misfit - I read Bulls Island last year and loved it. There's something about Charleston that just invites good Southern Lit. I need to read more of her stuff. I also love Ann B. Ross and her southern mysteries (hysterical!).

    Beth - I don't know why, but the character's relationship with her kids just cracked me up. At one point she just loses it and tells her smart-assed teen daughter that she "no longer gives a f*** what she does." Don't know why, but I just thought that most mothers could relate to wanting to say that at some point.

  12. Though I'm not a big fan of books that just seem to end without finishing the story, go ahead and enter me in your drawing. It sounds like an interesting story, and I'm drawn to the cover.

    Diary of an Eccentric
    diaryofaneccentric at hotmail dot com

  13. Ok, you had me at alcohol and humor.. No ending, no problem, just top off my beverage!

  14. Oh this book sounds great...I love these southern novels. Please enter me in your contest.

  15. Hmm sounds good - Southern Snarky a new genre!

  16. Sounds like a good fun read. And I know what you mean about endings ... I kind of like things to be tied up a little or come to some natural stopping point!


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