Family secrets give way to family love in this likable portrait of Southerners helping their unexpected kin.
Clumsy Missi Jennings awakens on her 33rd birthday to find her dismal life as disappointing as ever. She’s saddled with a loathsome paralegal job, a sleazy boss, a subpar apartment and an ice queen mother who wants to take her out for an esteem-crushing lunch. Just when her catalog of misfortunes seems overwhelming, an abrupt accident changes everything. In the wake of the tragedy, Missi suddenly finds herself the owner of a pristine townhouse, a multimillionaire and the granddaughter of the grandfather she never thought she had. Instilled with confidence by her only friend, the homely misfit Maggie, Missi buys a one-way ticket to Mississippi in hopes of finding her grandfather. Once in the hospitable South, a host of colorful Southern women—from Dolly, the spit-talking gas station owner, to Melba, the matron of the Grits-n-Greens diner, who spoons love out as fast as she does banana pudding—show Missi the family she always dreamed of having. Family secrets are turned on their heads, and while the grandfather she came to see has no interest in Missi at first, the rest of her unexpected family quickly welcomes her into their flock. When tragedy strikes the family, Missi proves to have just as generous a heart as others have shown her. She reluctantly returns to her previous life in hopes of finding herself in volunteer work but decides that she and her fortune can do more in Mississippi than anyone would expect. Despite her radical new life and the ups and downs it comes with, Missi sails through it all with little internal conflict, alternately laughing or weeping on cue but never deepening as a character. Expected challenges that come with family, just discovered or long suffered, never surface for Missi, who accepts everything without pause. The other characters, while not original portraits of Southerners, are extremely likable. Aunt Melba Little and her brood shine, showering Missi with hugs, biscuits and affectionate nicknames. Sandra, an adult daughter with Down syndrome, glows as a full character defined by more than her disability. Deliciously described home cooking is mouthwatering.
Tender characters and exciting plot twists create an enjoyable romp through one girl’s newfound Southern roots.