The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, by Fannie Flagg (2013)

Genre: Historical Fiction
Interest Level: Adult
All-Girl Filling Station's Last ReunionSometimes books just lift your spirits and inspire you to celebrate your life and your loved ones with all their quirks and habits. This new offering by Fannie Flagg (who gave us Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe) returns us to her favourite setting of Alabama. Sarah Jane Poole, known as Sookie, has just finished planning the weddings of all three daughters in less than two years, and she’s ready to relax and finally defeat the greedy blue jays who are crowding out the titmice and wrens. She still has to stickhandle the powerhouse that is her 88-year-old mother, Lenore, but she’s been doing that for nearly 60 years and is resigned to managing the crazy old gal’s latest escapades. Then Sookie discovers a secret about her mother that changes everything about her family and herself. It leads her outside of her beloved South, to Pulaski, Wisconsin, to Texas, and to California as she learns about a little-known aspect of history, the role of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots who ferried planes during the Second World War. Delightful characters populate this exploration of identity, family, courage, and the meaning of success. Historical fiction isn’t my favourite, but Flagg’s approach works beautifully – the time simply switches back and forth between Alabama of today and the US of the 1930s and ’40s, slowly unveiling the truth bit by bit. Sookie’s character grew on me as she developed, and I can see Flagg taking a stab at telling Lenore’s version of things in a companion novel. Lenore is the kind of woman you don’t want as a mother but really enjoy in your life – just a bundle of energy and demands that make you laugh and admire, a delight as long as you are not on clean-up duty. The ending wraps us with all the ends looked after – unrealistic, perhaps, but satisfying for fans of the genre. If you liked The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, try this one. A fun romp with good-hearted people, complete with flaws and delusions.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17345258

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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