Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Southern Girl's Guide to Gracious Living: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

I suppose I should count myself lucky that my mother wasn't a debutante, that I was never forced to go to Cotillion classes, and that when my freshman year roommate asked me if I was going to rush, I had no idea what she was talking about (after she told me how many dresses it involved, I decided against it).

Still, there's something about the southern debutante that I find myself powerless to resist, a certain trashy mystique. After all, it's not every woman who can smoke a Marlboro Light in white cotton gloves or puke up a liter of Jim Beam without messing up her lipstick.

Sarah Walters is a Charleston-born and bred deb, though she isn't very good at it. She's a little bit plain and shy, and though good manners and heavy drinking come easily to her, things like female friendship and husband-hunting are more elusive.

Girls in Trucks follows Sarah as she ditches Charleston for a lackluster career in publishing and journalism in New York, and as she embarks on one disastrous and wrong relationship after another. She keeps in touch with her fellow, former debs, Annie, Bitsy, and Charlotte, but don't let the names fool you - these are no Sex in the City-esque ladies who lunch and dish. Their lives and problems would have made Carrie Bradshaw trade in her Jimmy Choos for a rural nunnery.

Even though their lives aren't perfect, the other three still manage to have problems glamorous and interesting enough to match their successful lives. Sarah, on the other hand, is a floundering wreck, her problems the products of self-absorption and a frustrating inability to make good life choices.

And that's the biggest problem with Girls in Trucks. Because Sarah sees herself as mediocre, plain, and a failure, the reader will, too. And while I found myself rooting for every tertiary character in the book, I couldn't root for Sarah because I knew she'd find a way to defeat herself no matter how promising her prospects. There are lovable losers, and then, there are just losers.

Still, I read the book in a single sitting (or rather, during a long day of subway connections and doctor's office waiting rooms), and really enjoyed Crouch's descriptions of debutante culture and social class hierarchies in the South.

If you like...: books about southern life and love like Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, or books about women who just can't seem to get it together like The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld, this book is for you.

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