Review of a Book I Actually Like: Waking Up Dead

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Today I am sharing a review of a book written by my friend Margo Bond Collins. I wrote this review in January 2014. The name of the book is Waking Up Dead.

 

This book is not the sort I usually read.

I’m not typically attracted to books involving raped, murdered, and mutilated women. But this book was given to me by the author to read during the long cold winter, so I gave it a try. I’m glad I did.

I think it’s cool that Callie, the main character, is a ghost who doesn’t yet know how to be a ghost (much less why she is one). I was disappointed that Callie didn’t meet any other spirits (or even a human) who could explain at least a bit to her of the how’s and why’s of ghosthood. Can Callie possibly be the only ghost in the Abramsville, Alabama? I hope that in future Callie Taylor adventures our hero will meet folks (dead or alive) who can offer some explanations and tips.

I appreciate that the author doesn’t go into gratuitous gory detail when describing the two murders that happen in this novel. Yes, a woman is raped and murdered and another is murdered and mutilated, but the reader isn’t forced to witness every disturbing detail. Collins reports what the reader needs to know to follow the plot, then allows each individual to imagine the nasty details or not, according to her or his preference.

I chuckled when Callie goes to the Wal-Mart to find a human who can see and hear her. It’s a perfect detail, proving that the author knows just how small Southern towns work.

I thought Collins also reflected race relations in the 21st century South in a true light. Blacks and whites do have relationships (friendships, work connections, romantic encounters) with one another, but such relationships are often fraught with a particular kind of tension. Hurray to Collins for having her characters involved in interracial relationships that are real and complicated.

The cadence of her characters’ conversations also impressed me as the real rhythm of Southern dialogue. I’m not sure someone who hasn’t lived in the South for many years could get the spoken sound of the region so right.

Collins also did a great job with the “who done it?” aspect of the story.  As I mentioned, I don’t usually read murder mysteries, but when I do, I either seem to figure out the answer to the mystery immediately, or find the plot so convoluted that I don’t understand the detective’s eventual tidy little explanation of events. Waking Up Dead kept me guessing, kept me reading, but made sense when explanatory details came to light.

My favorite part of this book is that it has not one, not two, but three kick-ass, strong, brave female characters. That one of these characters is a maw-maw (grandma to folks not from the South) who can’t drive and has poor eyesight is an added bonus. There just aren’t enough old lady heroes in the world of fiction, so I’m grateful that Collins has given us a new one.

All in all, I enjoyed this book and look forward to hearing more from Callie Taylor and Margo Bond Collins.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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