|The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield|
Publisher: Gallery Books
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Kobo
Set in the small town of Quinn, Montana, The Flood Girls is a story of redemption with a wild cast of characters. The writing immediately draws you into the lives of the characters, particularly Rachel Flood, who has returned to Quinn nine years after leaving disaster in her wake.
In an attempt to make amends with her mother, Laverna, and the town she left behind, Rachel joins the town's softball team, the Flood Girls, and takes a job at The Dirty Shame, the only bar in town. Here she meets Jake, Red Mabel, Black Mabel, the Sinclairs, and several other women who are important parts of the team.
Each character is so very different from the next, and yet in their own ways they're all absolute bad-asses who know what they want and stick up for it. I loved each and every one of the protagonists, from the cantankerous yet caring Laverna, to the young, cheeky, and absolutely fabulous Jake. They're all so beautifully written that I truly felt like I knew them and came to love each of them, quirks and all.
The Flood Girls are very tight-knit and protective of their own at first, some reluctant to let Rachel in. But eventually she proves herself and her determination to make amends, and the ensuing relationships are at once hilarious and heartwarming. I especially loved Rachel's relationship with Jake, the 12-year-old next door who accessorizes his outfits with thrift store finds. Jake's eager-to-learn, wise-beyond-his-years personality was an absolute delight to read, and he and Rachel forged such a strong, meaningful relationship. The sass is strong with that one.
Over the past couple of years, I've been spending quite a bit of time in a small town and I've gotten a feel for what it's like to be a resident: everyone knows everyone (gossip and all!), and everyone is interconnected in one way or another. I've also gotten a sense for how quickly people are willing to help others who may be in need.
That small town nature is very present in this book. There are a lot of good things in Quinn, but just like in any town anywhere, there are also some dark ones, like abuse and intolerance. And when one of their own is affected, the Flood Girls don't stand for it. They defy the people who tell them the way things "should" be and despite their differences, they stand together to help each other. And those were some very emotional moments.
My mind is kind of blown by how many difficult, important themes Richard Fifield manages to eloquently address. Through these wonderful characters he's created, we learn about redemption, friendship, intolerance, love, betrayal, grief - all while still being able to laugh with the characters, somehow. The Flood Girls are incredible women (and a really awesome boy!) who will stay with me for years to come.
*This book was sent to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.