Monday, April 27, 2009

Follow Me by Joanna Scott

Everywhere she went, she was who she was. Even standing there in a quite house: she was the girl the others preferred dead. Too bad for them, she was alive enough to sing at a wedding.

You sure brought down the house, Sally Werner. And now you're standing in the rubble of Mason Jackson's modest life, having made a wreck of things. See how everything you touch falls apart.

The ceiling caves in.
The floor collapses.
And the walls come

(from Follow Me, page 75)

In Follow Me, Joanna Scott tells Sally Werner's story as she told it to her granddaughter, Sally. Sally's story begins in the late 1940s, when she is 16-years-old and accepts a motorcycle ride from her cousin, Daniel. They do more than just go on a ride, and Sally finds herself pregnant and unwilling to marry Daniel. After her son is born, she leaves the baby on the kitchen table of her parents' home and flees. Running away becomes the story of Sally's life. Several times throughout the book she meets people randomly, takes advantage of their kindness, and for one reason or another, leaves in a hurry to start over with no real plan for the future. Sally eventually settles down and has a daughter, Penelope, but she continues her quest to find her son -- with some pretty dramatic consequences.

While I didn't really like Sally's character and grew tired of her running away, I found her story interesting. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to Sally and her son, and I was curious to hear the end of the story told at the very beginning about Sally's granddaughter's father, who survived a jump from a bridge into the river and then abandons a pregnant Penelope.

Scott is a good writer and a master of descriptions, but it took me a long time to get involved in the story because many of the descriptions seemed unnecessary. The story took a long time to develop, and it felt as though most of the details were being told by the narrator instead of shown through interaction between the characters. Scott's writing style is unique and interesting, ranging from lengthy sentences to sentence fragments to an almost poetic structure, but I think it bogged the story down in some parts. However, I think Follow Me is a good book for readers who enjoy character-driven novels with rich descriptions.


About Joanna Scott:

Joanna Scott is the author of four novels, including 1997 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Manikin, and a short story collection, Various Antidotes, which was a finalist for the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Lannan Award. She lives in Rochester, New York.


Check out some of the other blogs participating in the Hachette Early Birds Blog Tour for Joanna Scott's Follow Me:

Savvy Verse & Wit
Peeking Between the Pages
Bermudaonion's Weblog
A Bookworm's World
The Tome Traveller's Weblog
drey's library
A Circle of Books
Dan's Journal
2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
S. Krishna's Books
the epic rat
Cafe of Dreams
Jenn's Bookshelf
Kylee's 2009 Blog
The Burton Review

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Follow Me from Hachette for review purposes.


Serena said...

i had a tough time with this novel!

bermudaonion said...

Great review, Cindy. A lot of people have said they had trouble getting into this one. I enjoyed it from the beginning, but do agree that the second half of the book was much more captivating.

Darlene said...

Nice review Anna. My feelings were much the same as yours. I too think the style bogged down what was a really interesting premise for this book. The second half went much faster for me and either way I was interested enough in Sally to need to know what eventually would happen with her and her family.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm sensing a common theme here with all of your reviews...

Toni said...

I didn't have a tough time getting into it. At first I thought that the writing style was going to get in my way.. but then I grew to appreciate it. I have found myself wanting to know more of these small towns. It almost reminded me of Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer. Anyway.. since I didn't finish I don't have a rounded opinion of the story...but I am enjoying the book now. As for Sally running running running.. it is driving me nuts!!!!

Debb said...

Having not read the book... although the recent comments don't seem hopeful... I am willing to read this book and decide for myself... everyone is different in what they like to read and I will keep an open mind... debb

Miriam Parker said...

Thanks for giving it a shot!

Jeanne said...

I've been reading various reviews of this novel today, and your review comes closest to my experience of reading the book--I didn't like Sally as a character, got tired of her always running away, but wanted to know what happened enough to finish the book. I also reviewed this one here:

ANovelMenagerie said...

I must be the only person in the bloggin community that absolutely loved this book. I agree that the beginning is tough. In fact, I re-read it. But what I got in the book as it unfolded was well worth it for me. Here's my review:
I posted my review a long time ago before the tour date was announced.

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the honest review Anna. I usually enjoy books when I don't like the characters so I can't wait to read this one. I'm hoping to get to it in the next month or so.

Iliana said...

You know, I tried one of her books years ago and found it a bit difficult that I think I didn't even finish it. Can't remember the title right now... Anyway, this story intrigues me though. I think I'd like to know why the character is driven to runaway from life/problems/people. So I'm off to go enter my name for the giveaway :)

Wanda said...

You know Anna, reading your review, I was leaning more towards unh-uh for this one. Then came your last sentance and I changed my mind. Character-driven novels with rich descriptions are a huge part of my list of all time favourites. Think I'll have to read this one and decide for myself.

Nicole said...

I already don't like the main character based on your review. But, the writing style sounds interesting.

The Bookworm said...

great review, it does sound good even if it took a while for the story to develop.

S. Krishna said...

Nice review. I wasn't a fan of Sally's character either.

Staci said...

Loved your thoughts. I think I would like to dive into this book sometime!!

Anna said...

Serena: I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy it. I did enjoy how we got together a couple of times to read and discuss.

Bermudaonion: I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one!

Dar: I agree that the pace picked up a bit in the second half. I'm glad I stuck with it to find out what happened in the end.

Sandy: :)

Toni: Glad you really enjoyed the book.

Debb: That's so true!

Miriam: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read it and be part of the tour.

Jeane: Sometimes I'm okay with not liking the character and it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the book. I think this time it was the combination of the slow pace and the unlikeable character.

ANovelMenagerie: Nope, you're not the only one. I've seen lots of reviews from people who enjoyed it a lot.

Jo-Jo: I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this book.

Iliana: While I didn't like her much, Sally was interesting. I hope you get a chance to read this one. I'd love to know what you think.

Wanda: I can totally see why a lot of reviewers enjoyed this book. It really was a pacing thing for me. I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it.

Nicole: I thought it was written in a very unique way.

Naida: Thanks!

S. Krishna: Thanks! At least Sally was interesting.

Staci: If you read it, please let me know what you think.