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Review: Follow Me, Joanna Scott

Sally Bliss’s father jumped off a bridge before she was born and, even though he survived, he still left her mother forever.  To get to that point, however, is a long, twisted road, starting with Sally’s grandmother, who was also named Sally, and a motorcycle ride with her cousin Daniel Werner.  That day leads to consequences Sally regrets as she flees her family and her baby, finding solace with strangers in a small town not far from her home.  Sally spends much of her young life running away until another unexpected consequence brings joy to her life and a determination to do better.  This multi-generational saga follows the family’s story and brings together several strands to end in a heartwarming conclusion.

This book starts off very slowly.  At first I was confused between the two Sallys.  I couldn’t figure out how they connected until I went back and read the book jacket.  I never do that, but when you have two characters with the same name, it becomes necessary.  Moreover, Sally’s life doesn’t start out very auspiciously and she spends quite a lot of time feeling guilty and hearing voices that tell her she is a slut and she can’t escape what she did.  She’s tempted to act very badly where she ends up next and I just despaired for where she was going.

Around the time when her daughter is born, this book picks up quite a bit.  Penelope and Sally together liven the story up and make it much more interesting and conflicting.  More things happen and the arc of the story starts to come together in a highly coincidental but strangely believable way.  In other words, it gets good, and in the end, I really enjoyed it.  I never quite liked Sally Werner, as she was too haunted by the ghosts of her past.  Perhaps deservedly so since she did abandon a baby to the family who didn’t know how to raise her properly, but she goes on to do some peculiar things.  I really, really liked Penelope, though.  She is perhaps the least fleshed out of the three, only given her own adult voice in a single letter, but I was drawn to her.  I suspect that it’s because she really seems to have lost the most due to the folly of her mother.  Not always Sally’s fault, but Penelope is a victim of circumstance who does not let those circumstances take away what matters to her.  I admire that, and that’s why I liked her the best.

Finally, the book ends on a wonderful, positive note.  I loved how over the course of three generations, the family went from less than nothing to such a scene.  It wrapped up beautifully.

All in all, a book worth reading.  Stick through the first hundred pages and I suspect you will see what I mean.

Buy Follow Me: A Novel on Amazon.

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