We’ve been having some funny old weather for the last few months – well, funny if you find rain hilarious – but recent reports from the USA have made me fairly glad that we’ve not been having that amount of snow. I mean, look at the name of this blog – we always get more than our fair share of wintry weather up here in BD13 (but if we flood the water is 1,000 feet deep so everybody is in big trouble….). Anyway, as usual I digress. But mostly because my latest review is for a book which features, among other things, an awful lot of very bad weather.
Sweetgirl is a slim book – 250 odd pages – but don’t let that fool you. Like its heroine, Percy James, it packs much more of a punch than you would expect. I really liked Percy – a sixteen year old who has had a hard childhood, mostly looking after her addict mother, and yet is still funny, feisty and flawed – and I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book as she is pitched against a blizzard, a bunch of small-town drug-lords and an apparantly abandoned baby. There is a great deal of tenderness in Percy’s dealings with the child and with her mother’s ex-partner Portis but you are impressed with the grit that enables her to keep going against the odds.
Oddly, the character who fascinated me the most was Shelton Potter – the local drug dealer who has been supplying Percy’s mother and seems to rule the area (so long as his uncle, the real power in the region, is sitting out the winter in Florida). He is violent and thoughtlessly brutal but I can’t help but feel sorry for him. It isn’t that he is self-pitying – what touched me was seeing how he is unable to see how wicked he is. In his eyes he is a good man, who loves his dog and is doing all he can to ‘rescue’ the missing baby, while we watch him bully his henchmen and take every stimulant he can lay his hands on.
This is Travis Mulhauser’s first novel – I look forward to seeing where he goes next as he is undoubtedly talented.