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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Goddess of Fried Okra - Jean Brashear

Released March 2010

Eudora "Pea" O'Brien has only known a few things in life: the road, her mother and her older sister. Pea was eight when her mom died, so her older sister took over. Pea's sister believed strongly in reincarnation and shared her beliefs with Pea, though Pea wasn't quite as convinced that life delivered "do-overs." After her sister's death, 29-year-old Pea spends 10 months not knowing what to do without her sister.

Seeking guidance, Pea talks to her sister's favorite psychic. That woman announces that she sees New Mexico in Pea's future. Pea believes that might be where her sister's newly reincarnated spirit is located. So, she sets off on a journey that will forever change her. Along the way, she becomes the proud owner of a scrawny kitten; companion to Alex, an abused, very scared, pregnant teen; and traveling mate to Valentine Bonham, a gorgeous man who's trying to change his ways.

As the trio heads through Texas on their way to New Mexico, Pea's car breaks down. Pea and her travel mates become stuck in a dusty Texan town with no money and no one to call for help. Pea is lucky enough to land a job at a small cafe, despite not knowing the first thing about cooking, where she learns more about life than she'd ever imagined.

The Goddess of Fried Okra flows incredibly well. Starting the first page, I admit to not being certain I'd like the writing style. Pea's story is told in the first-person and she comes off as very brash from time to time. Yet, within a few pages, the reader empathizes with Pea and can't stop reading.

As the story progresses, the other characters become great adversaries to Pea. Alex's teen rebellion, Valentine's desire to change and Pea's stubborn streak match up well. All characters begin to feel like family.

With a good dose of southern charm, The Goddess of Fried Okra lured me in and delivered a powerful story of life's uncertainties and how even the most mismatched can become the best of friends.

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