Rose Mae Lolley was a secondary character in Gods in Alabama, and since that book was told in Arlene Fleet’s voice, we don’t really know Rose Mae’s true story.
In Backseat Saints, we are gifted with the versions of Rose Mae. There is the little girl of eight, whose mother has walked out on her. A version that continues into high school. She is full of mouthiness and is a guy magnet. But she picks the bad ones.
As Ro, she is married to Thom Grandee, a mix of good and bad. Because we see so much of the abuse almost immediately, it is impossible to realize the good parts right away. The parts that keep Ro hooked.
But something else is stirring up inside Ro these days, beginning on the day she meets a Gypsy at the airport. It’s the pull of another journey: a journey to find her mother.
Ro’s journey (she has taken on another version now as Ivy Wheeler) carries her from Amarillo, Texas, to Chicago, and then to Fruiton, Alabama, where she grew up. Ultimately she arrives in Berkeley, California.
Will Rose Mae find her mother? And when she does, will she discover the truth of why her mother left? Or will she find something completely different under a blanket of untruths?
The ending of this story crept up on me and I didn’t see this version coming. I could have guessed, but the unfolding drama left me wanting so much more of these characters and their stories. And perhaps more from the characters who were not primary ones in this tale. At the end, I enjoyed reading the author’s truths about how she came to write these characters…and what might lie ahead. Five stars!