April 25, 2012

book review: blue straggler

In Kathy Lynn Harris' Blue Straggler, a woman on the verge of a meltdown breaks away from her life to discover the truth behind a family mystery while finding herself in the process. 

At 30, Bailey Miller feels her life slipping away. She is disconnected from her family in rural Texas, works at a job she barely tolerates and is unable to maintain romantic relationships. After trying to fix her problem by creating a new persona (RODA), visiting an unhelpful Ed Harris-look-alike shrink and self-medicating with booze, Bailey is farther from inner peace than ever. Even her friends -- diner owner Idamarie and college buddy Rudy -- are at a loss to help her get it together.

After finding a photograph of her long-lost great-grandmother, Bailey leaves Texas to follow the woman's secret past in small-town Colorado. There, she finds more than she was looking for in terms of her family history and her personal self-discovery.

Well-paced and -written, Blue Straggler does more than create a portrait of a troubled woman on a road to healing and discovery, it paints an image of Americana. Though I am no expert of Texas, having only lived in southern Texas for 14 months, I was well able to imagine the circumstances Bailey begins with. Tight-knit family, open spaces and feeling out of place in such a connected community. A Texas native herself, Harris captures the spirit of the area, which provides a solid backdrop for parts of Bailey's journey.

On another level, Bailey was relatable for any person who reaches a point in his or her life and wonders "what the hell am I doing?" As protagonists go, Bailey was far from perfect. But she recognized this flaw in herself and understood that she was on a self-destructive journey. As she made mistakes, she knew -- or at least admitted it soon after -- that she made them. And through it all she wanted to change. Those factors made it difficult to be mad at her. It made me commiserate.

From secondary characters, such as the fabulous Idamarie and Rudy and love interest for Bailey, to smaller characters, such as her aunts, uncles, cousins and boss, Harris excelled at creating a cast that was entertaining, frustrating or supporting as needed to progress the story.

A well-told story of making life choices and changes on the road to self-discovery, Blue Straggler is a solid read, stirring tears and laughter.

Rating: 4.5 of 5

About the Author:

Kathy grew up in rural South Texas — and comes from people who work hard, love the land and know how to have a good time on a Saturday night. As a writer, Kathy was lucky to have been surrounded by exceptional characters throughout her life, many of whom have lived their lives exactly the way they wanted. The rest of the world could take `em or leave `em! Inspiring, to say the least.

In 2001, Kathy made the move from Texas to the Colorado Rockies to focus on her writing and soak up All Things Mountain. She lives in an authentic log cabin near the southernmost glacier in North America, at 10,500 feet above sea level, with her husband and son, plus two fairly untrainable golden retriever mixes. It is there that she writes.

Read more from Kathy on her blog, You Can Take the Girl Out of Texas but...

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Blue Straggler is available on Amazon in eBook and paperback format now!

Read an excerpt of Blue Straggler here

View other reviews, interviews and guest posts from the author on her Chick Lit Plus Blog Tour here.

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  1. Wow, what a well-written review! Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so very glad you liked Blue Straggler.