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As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Meby Nanci Kincaid
Synopses & Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Berry Jackson has more good sense than all the Bible-thumping grown-ups in her hometown of Pinetta, Florida. In the woods behind Berry's house are the swamp and the snakes and the quicksand, where men are said to have been swallowed up whole, leaving only a hat or a handkerchief as evidence. Pinetta is the kind of small southern town where not much happens in a day but a lot can happen in a summer.
As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me tells the story of the long, hot summer when Berry's father disappears, her mother lusts after the preacher, and a handsome convict comes to town to repair the dusty roads damaged by a hurricane. Berry doesn't understand her world perfectly, but she calls things what they are — and sometimes that's as much clarity as anyone should expect. In a town where everyone with a dream seems to want to flee, what Berry ultimately discovers is that you don't have to run to find yourself.
"Kincaid's fourth novel (after Crossing Blood; Balls; Verbena) is a deliciously intimate portrayal of the sunstruck small town of Pinetta, Fla., as seen through the eyes of Berry, a 13-year-old trying to make sense of adult indiscretions and her own sexual awakening. Berry's father, Ford, is the town's self-righteous school principal; her mother, Ruth, has a crush on the preacher; her good-looking older brother, Sowell, has his 'mind... on tits'; her younger brother, Wade is a specialist in 'elaborate animal funerals.' When Ford mysteriously disappears in the middle of a tornado with Rennie, the town's tragic teenage wannabe starlet, Berry and her family become the subject of much gossip and attention. In her father's absence, her mother shifts her attentions to a rich, hot-tempered neighbor, and Berry develops a crush on Raymond, a smooth-talking convict in town to help clean up after the storm. When Raymond saves Berry's life by coming between her and two rattlesnakes, it's she who fearlessly volunteers to suck the poison out of his leg. Hungry for affection, Berry ultimately gets what she's after, though when she's had it, she's not sure what to make of it. Narrated with childlike honesty and dead-on Southern flavor ('Used to be we would all get in the tub like a can of worms spilled into shallow ditch water'), this is a sticky, sultry gem." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Kincaid...has crafted quirky characters and evoked a Deep South sensibility, which combine to make a well-developed fictional world." Library Journal
"Kincaid brings a wonderfully engaging authorial sensibility to her story, while her obvious affection for her characters — and theirs for each other — is downright irresistible." Booklist
"Sometimes denser than a tangle of snakes, but [the] story never fails to engage." Kirkus Reviews
From a place where you don't have to run away to find yourself, this novel's young heroine, Berry, joins the ranks of other memorable and spirited girl narrators such as Bone in Bastard Out of Carolina, Kaye Gibbon's Ellen Foster, Lily Owens in The Secret Life of Bees, and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird.
About the Author
Nanci Kincaid is the author of three previous novels — Crossing Blood, Balls, and Verbena — and a story collection, Pretending the Bed is a Raft, which was made into the feature film, My Life Without Me. She divides her time between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Austin, Texas.
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