Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eat, Drink, and Be from Mississippi (copy)

Brother and sister growing up in Mississippi is only part of the story associated with Nanci Kincaid’s latest book titled Eat, Drink, and Be from Mississippi. The book explores how racism not only occurs in the South – like we cornered the market on the ugliness – but it happens just as easily in a state as liberal and progressive as California.

Truely and Courtney Noonan are products of a southern conservative home outside the city limits of Jackson in Hines County. They grow up in the nineties with little controversy. True is doing his part as a lineman on the high school football team to impress Truely, Sr. and make him proud. Courtney is attending Millsaps with a full scholarship, but things are about to change dramatically for both siblings.

It begins when Courtney asks her roommate to drive her home from college mid-semester. Courtney has the crazy idea to blow off the slow life of Jackson and move to the ever-sunny San Jose, California, to attend the university. True is concerned his sister is disrespecting their parents and making a mistake. This causes a slight ripple in the otherwise smooth relationship between brother and sister, but all is made well again by Truely, Sr. allowing Courtney to leave.

Soon Courtney settles into classes and meets Hastings Littleton, a successful realtor who has a passion for southern cooking. Before readers have a clue, 21-year-old Courtney is shacking up with 31-year-old Hastings. The moral decline California is known for has gotten a hold of Courtney and the parents hang their heads in shame.

After spending a Christmas at the Littleton household, Courtney having succumbed to parental pressure and married, True is now bitten by the westward bug and enrolls at San Jose State himself. As this unbelievable story unfolds, we see Truely marrying Jesse and becoming a programming millionaire joining the ranks of his real estate millionaire sister.

This book is so soap-opry; I still have suds behind my ears. The protagonist, Arnold, appears after page 140, and I am surprised by my patience in reading. It is the relationship between the street thug, Arnold, and the siblings that awakens the sleeping racism within this trifling trichotomy.

Nanci Kincaid has written a readable book; although, it is not my cup of tea. Admittedly, I found it hard to swallow.

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