Debut author Holder offers a novel about an abused young mother’s quest to survive.
In June 1967, Liz Harmon tells her husband, the drunken Ron, that she’s leaving him. He responds violently, forcing her to flee with her two young children—bloodied, missing a tooth, and afraid. Fortunately, she’s able to move in with her boss, Lucille Frantz. Liz earns money dancing at a bar called The Jet, although after Ron’s attack, she’ll need to stay offstage until she heals. She wants to start a brand-new life without her husband in the picture, but she finds the prospect difficult—there are medical bills, lawyer’s fees, and the well-being of her kids to think about. Where will the money come from? How long will she be able to stay with Lucille? Meanwhile, Ron travels to Nashville to stay with his parents and try to turn his life around; as his father tells him, “If you want your family back, you have to get yourself right first. That means stop the drinking.” But his chances at success are anyone’s guess, and it seems sure that if he decides to come back to town, trouble won’t be far off. Family troubles are at the heart of this narrative that’s both recognizable and sprinkled with surprises. Readers will find themselves engaged by the fates of both the exotic dancer and her estranged, unpredictable husband. Liz lives a small-town, celibate existence for most of the book, but this eventually gives way to erotic scenes and travel to new places. The dialogue can be mundane at times, as when a mechanic goes through the play-by-play of replacing the spark plugs in Liz’s car. But despite such speedbumps, the book progresses quickly, showing that even the most impossible circumstances may have an exit.
A mostly breezy read that sheds light on one woman’s relatable struggle.