When literature is put in front of you with themes of racism, life and death, faith, and guilt, you don’t say no to reading it. The book I’m referring to is Goodlife, Mississippi by Eileen Saint Lauren. This is my review of it.
Disclosure: I received a hardcopy of this book in return for an honest review. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from any purchases made through the links in this post at no extra cost to you.
The plot of Goodlife, Mississippi
This book of fiction takes the reader through the life of young Mary “Myra” Boone in the ’50s and ’60s. She lives in the South, in Mississippi. Goodlife, Mississippi is the story of Myra, spread over 12 years.
Author Saint Lauren writes gut-wrenching moments, a big one being when Myra experiences a horrific event at home (no spoilers!). Forced to grow up earlier than most kids, Myra wrestles with overwhelming guilt and the realities of loss as a part of life. The pages took me, as the reader, through the young girl’s struggles to overcome and continue on.
Myra sees racism time and again in her life in the South. Her thoughts and actions in response to these moments reveal her big heart, horrific inequalities, and, sadly, racial injustices that continue today. While the book is fiction, it is based on the realities of history.
The novel also weaves mentions of singer Ray Charles into it. This leads to a wonderful moment close to the end of the book.
Faith is a theme that is deep within the read. This won’t appeal to everyone, but I felt it was done in a way that didn’t hit me over the head with religion. Faith reinforced the characters’ emotions, values, and ways of life.
Eileen Saint Lauren’s first book
I was shocked to learn that Goodlife, Mississippi is Saint Lauren’s first novel. Wow. I felt it had such a professional air to it, from the front cover to how well the plot moves along and the depth of the main character.
Saint Lauren takes her experiences living in the South in the ’50s and ’60s, using this to provide an in-depth look at what life was like back then. Racial segregation in Mississippi was tough to read about, and young Myra’s desire to help others came through clearly in the pages.
The author’s descriptions are unique and show the beauty of the English language. For example, on page 230, “It was hard for me to understand why I was born if I was to always live in an ocean of loneliness.” I read some paragraphs multiple times, enjoying the way the words sounded or the originality of the way she described events and physical things.
That said, the descriptors were, at times, a distraction. Sometimes, I found myself caught up in the language rather than the story. So, sometimes, it took away from the plot.
Also, the backside of the hardcopy I received contains only the bio of the author, not a book description. So, if I were to pick up the book without knowing anything about it, I wouldn’t know what it was about unless I looked at the summary inside the first pages.
Overall impressions of Goodlife, Mississippi
As explained, there is a lot I appreciated about this book. While it could perhaps use fewer descriptors, it is a book that takes on big themes. Racism is a topic that Eileen Saint Lauren covers well, getting to the underbelly and revealing the horrors. She brings in light through Myra, a Southern girl forced to age beyond her years in the 1950s-1960s.
I give Goodlife, Mississippi 4 out of 5 stars. I truly felt the ups and downs of the main character.
What are you reading?
Top photo: Hardcopy of my copy of the book
7 thoughts on “Book review of Goodlife, Mississippi”
Great review Christy. This must have been a tough book to write. I know, as a memoir writer, it can be difficult reliving as we write. <3
Hi Debby, while the author says it’s not a memoir, it is based on harsh realities she saw around her. So you’re right that it wasn’t likely to be easy!
Remember, there is always much truth in fiction. <3
I really enjoyed this review. Besides blogs, when I can, I’m not reading anything specific right now that’s outside of my industry. I haven’t found the time. That said, I would consider reading this book.
Hi Ka, I like reading before going to sleep. I always have a long to-read list, too, because there are so many books out there that sound amazing. You are a busy person, and I love your creativity ~ Keep up whatever you’re doing as you’re doing amazing!