5 / 5 Stars; Southern Contemporary
"You could break your body with something that grew inside you. You could self-destruct."
Jolene is a not-so-recent high school graduate, the very incarnation of the Southern idiom "bless your heart." Sweet as shoo-fly pie, optimistic beyond reality, and naive as anything, she finds herself in a bit of bother (read: her baby-daddy don't wanna hang around for the birth of their child). Now cast out of her aunt's house—the only home or family she knows—Jolene is forced to manage her new life, and pregnancy, alone, in an unfamiliar town.
Meanwhile back at a different ranch, Chuck has problems of his own. He's a hard-working pain-in-the-ass who just got shot of some no-good people (you know the kind) and just wants to provide the best life for the nephew his deadbeat sister dropped on his doorstep. He's making a new life for himself and Cash. Or was. But now those ne'er-do-wells are after his M.I.A. sister, and if Chuck doesn't find her before they do, he might just find her bucket kicked.
In Song Birds and Stray Dogs, Meagan Lucas introduces these characters to each other, imagining the friendship—and love—that can blossom between two strangers down on their luck. Lucas deeply submerges readers into the minds of her characters, their faults juxtaposed with their hearts, and we cannot help but love them. Jolene and Chuck seldom catch a break, running a gauntlet of unfortunate events and bad decisions, the readers running alongside them, holding our collective breath.
Lucas's story is a portrait of both the comfort and grime of life in the South, the sweetness and dirt of relationships. Her prose is so crisp and clean, her details so perfectly plucked and displayed, you'd swear you were lounging in some neighbor's sittin'-room, listening to the tale from the cinnamon-sugar lips of the town gossip. Song Birds and Stray Dogs will make your heart chuckle and ache.
I work with this talented author under Barren Magazine, where she kicks ass in the role of Fiction Editor, selecting the most inspirational, beautiful, heart-breaking pieces we receive for publication. Because of this, I'm familiar with her discerning taste and appreciation for the craft of writing. I expected a helluva book, but I'm still blown away by the quality of her story and prose in this, her first novel-length work.
I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader copy of Song Birds and Stray Dogs, but you can pre-order the novel due for publication in August 2019. For a taste of her fiction, you can check out some of the stories in her portfolio on her website.
Add Song Birds and Stray Dogs to your To Be Read pile on Goodreads; follow Meagan Lucas on Twitter; and brace yourself for the next big name in Southern fiction, galloping out of a Barnes & Noble near you this August.
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