Wednesday, January 13, 2010

GIRLS IN TRUCKS by Katie Crouch

GIRLS IN TRUCKS is Katie Crouch's national-bestselling debut novel about Sarah Walters' journey into womanhood as a Southern debutante-in-training and member of the exclusive Camellia Society. I had to take a week to think about this story before writing this post because, although I loved Crouch's voice and her ability to capture the reader's imagination with her character's humorous insights, dialogue and depictions, I had trouble reading it.

The beginning grabbed and held my attention with Sarah's engaging and witty first-person account of life with her family and friends, living in a sometimes stifling culture bound by tradition and obligation. I was so captivated by Crouch's authentic voice and Sarah's quirky personality, that when the book abruptly switched to the third-person point-of-view, it jarred me, leaving me feeling as if I'd accidently picked up a different book.

The third-person narrator covers Sarah's entire college experience in a single chapter, putting distance between Sarah and the reader at a time when she begins her downward spiral into a life of promiscuity and illicit drug use. Although, I understand why Crouch switched to the third-person, as a reader who'd connected with Sarah, I felt cheated.

When the author later returned to the first-person point-of-view, I had difficult relating to Sarah's offensive behavior and could only interpret her actions to be a rebellion to the restrictive lifestyle she'd adhered to as a member of the Camellia Society. Sadly, I couldn't stand seeing her on the page, as she'd become an unlikeable character bent on destroying herself. Additionally, her unrequited love for an abusive man, her affair with her best-friend's husband, and her addictions disturbed me.

Two things that didn't work for me as a reader were the various points-of-view Crouch employed and the portions of the book that were written in short, journal-type entries. Although the author illustrates her skill in writing from all points-of-view (third, first, second, omniscient), I found the abrupt changes distracting in a book of this length. Also, the short sections left me wanting to know more of the story. I will look forward to seeing if her next novel is written in the same format.

In spite of this, Crouch's unique voice and style kept me flipping the pages. This book touches on everything: sexuality, friendship, infidelity, drug abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, physical abuse and death.

I plan on rereading this book for style and recommend it to other students of writing. I'd be interested in others's impressions.

For more information on Katie Crouch, you can visit her website at