When I drive across Texas this summer I'm going to keep my eye on city limits signs. If I see that Alexandra Allred's fictional White Trash town of Granby has suddenly become real, I may back track and go around. Not because I don't want to see it, but because there's a good chance that if I do I'll get swept up into its stories and never leave.
That's exactly what happened to Thia Franks. When she graduated high school, her scholarship to Duke was her one-way ticket out of town, and you probably can guess what happened. A few years later she returned home with a degree, a baby and not a little chagrin. Her aunt wangled her a temporary job at the newspaper. Thia planned her way back out of town. However, when she heard a stunningly offensive racial slur (not repeated here), she was swept up into the dramas and complexity of Granby.
Three groups make up the tiny town: Anglo, African American, and Latino. Conflicts and alliances rule the day. The newspaper office is right in the middle of most of them, and Thia right along with it.
This gallop through a few Granby months almost threw me with its shifting point-of-view and many, many characters. (A cast of characters would help a lot. I had to grab a pencil and create my own.) But I hung on and was glad I finished the ride. The stories are intriguing and the characters worth knowing, even the goats. As you might expect in a novel about west Texas, there are plenty of goats and some Port-a-potties as well.
Early on, James Otis, whom I selected to be the hero, meets a violent and inexplicable death at the end of a celebration party in his honor. Thia is there and knows all the other guests, so she must know the killer or killers.
White Trash sounds dark, and it is, but Allred's characters bring light to the situations with their ongoing, complex and sometimes very funny personal stories. Thia's aunt Cici and her unlikely romance bring not only welcome laughter, but a good measure of joy.
Once again, I learn the power of story to help us discover all aspects about life. I hope that Allred is thinking about a sequel, because I certainly want to know what happens next.
While growing up Alexandra Allred travelled the world as the daughter of member of the United States Diplomatic Corps. She returned to her Texas roots for college where she studied history. While she has written widely both fiction and nonfiction—particularly sports—she now specialized in fiction and has several books to her credit. Still in Texas, she lives a small town with her family and many animals—including goats. Visit her website.
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