Abby Savage’s life seems like a soap opera. See if you can keep up with this: Abby’s mother is married to a man, dubbed Guitar Guy, half her age who is also the ex-boyfriend of both of Abby’s older sisters, Shelby and Kait. Not only has Guitar Guy dated both of Abby’s sisters, he is the father of Kait’s unborn child. And it gets worse, but you’ll have to read to find out about that. For obvious reasons, Abby has decided to live by a set of relationship rules, rule #1 being find someone new. The problem, the boy she loves, Jackson, doesn’t fit the rules. Abby doesn’t trust her herself and refuses to think with her heart for fear of ending up like the rest of the women in her family, but what will Abby’s rules truly make her happy?
Reaction: Loved It! My favorite part of the book is not something to turns up in the summary. It is Abby’s relationship with her closeted best friend Cody. When readers first meet Cody, Abby warns us:
Before you get your hopes up, let me tell you this is not one of those situations where the girl goes out with the empty-headed jock only to realize that her soul mate was living next door to her all along. Cody is gay. He hasn’t told me–or anyone–yet, but I know. When you’ve been friends with a guy your whole life, it’s pretty easy to figure out. (pg 3)
First, this is a great example of Abby’s voice. Second, this is a huge part of the book, Cody’s sexuality and his coming to terms with it. Cody is teased at school despite the fact that he isn’t out. His denial, at least publicly, that he is gay causes horrible tension between him and Abby. Even after he decides to come out, Cody faces some horrible choices. I found Cody’s story sad and compelling and very well done.
I also thought that characterization of Abby’s family, her sisters, her mother, and her father, was wonderful. These were some very flawed people but they weren’t all good and they weren’t all bad. I think Geerling showed wonderful talent in her handling of these characters. While they are different from anyone I know, I do believe that there are certainly people who will be able to relate with Abby and her family.
My only gripe is with the main romantic relationship. I think Jackson’s character is as well-drawn as the rest. He’s a jock and a bit of an a** when he wants to be but he is also sweet and caring. Definitely not perfect. Abby and Jackson’s relationship blossomed before readers enter the story, so the fact that they don’t spend a lot of time together to develop their feelings doesn’t bother me too much. The two things that bothered me were: 1. Jackson seemed ill concerned with the fact that he could possibly be he father of Kait’s baby. While it is unlikely, it is not 100% ruled out. I would want some sort of DNA test just to be sure. 2. Abby’s end decision was a 180 turn around that seemed to come from nowhere. While I was happy with the end, it just didn’t fit her character. That was disappointing after what I thought was so much stellar characterization. Abby and Jackson took a backseat to some of the other storylines–Cody and Abby’s family drama–so I wish I could have had more time for Abby to come to her eventual decision.
Despite that, like I said at the beginning, I loved Fancy White Trash. It is definitly for older readers–drinking, sex (though not explicit), and even a butt plug (a first for me) showed up in the story. Still, an awesome depicition of an imperfect family and a wonderfully handled story of a young man struggling with his sexuality.