Joshilyn Jackson’s novel Between, Georgia is the story of Nonny Frett, born to teenage Hazel Crabtree, who turned up on Bernese Frett Baxter’s doorstep in labor in the middle of the night. Bernese, a nurse, also happens to be the sworn enemy of Hazel’s mother, Ona Crabtree. Hazel gives her baby to the Fretts, and Nonny is adopted by deaf and blind Stacia Frett. Once Ona gets wind of the deception, her cold war with Bernese heats up and eventually breaks out into all-out war in an incident involving a dog attack. Biologically a Crabtree, but raised a Frett, Nonny always seems to be in between: caught between her no-account husband Jonno, whom she can’t seem to get rid of, and her friend, Henry Crabtree (either a distant relation or no relation).
First of all, it bears repeating (because every review I’ve read by a Georgian includes this fact), Between, Georgia, is a real place. I have driven through it. And that’s all most people say about places like Between. It is Between Athens and Atlanta, yes, but also exactly between Loganville and Monroe, which is think is the original origin of its name (if I’m not mistaken). One review I read of this book criticized it for having eccentric characters. It is true that Southern literature has its fair share of crazies. Maybe this video can illuminate things for you Yankees.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3KQgulBzh0
I know the reviewer said she’s lived in a small Southern town and folks were actually normal, and she’s probably telling the truth. Mainly (as Huck would say). But these are real people. I sure know them. So yes, this book has crazy people in it, but I think some of them were my family members—in fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of the Crabtrees were based on family members.
Joshilyn Jackson spoke at a Georgia Council of Teachers of English conference I went to a couple of years ago. She is hysterical in person, and has a wonderful voice, which is why folks seem to like her audio books. I remember her saying at the conference that she got interested in Between as she drove through town because she noticed the population sign: it had evidently lost a resident, and the sign had been changed. Jackson imagined that a person who would be so meticulous about the population sign must be someone like Bernese.
This was a fun, light read, and it was genuinely funny in some parts. It’s always a bit interesting to read about places you know or have visited or lived in.