On a recent trip to the bookstore, I just happened to reach up on the shelf and pull down The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc: A Novel by Loraine Despres. I was hooked before I even finished reading the back cover, which starts, “It’s a steamy June afternoon in Louisiana, circa 1956, and Sissy LeBlanc is sitting on her front porch, wondering—half seriously—if she could kill herself with aspirins and Coca-Cola.”
Within 30 seconds I knew I would be taking the home with me and I’m so glad I did. It is a page-turner packed with small-town scandal and choices–not to mention a cute high school football star. The author’s Web site says, “More than a rip-roaring good read about a feisty Southern girl tearing up her hometown, The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc is a poignant story about innocence lost and hope regained, about the dangers of taking a risk—and playing it safe, about wresting control of your life before someone does it for you. Shifting back and forth in time, Loraine Despres limns an utterly captivating portrait of Sissy LeBlanc’s tumultuous coming of age and her struggle to break free from the loveless, stifling marriage it led her to.”
I was already staying up past my bedtime to read, then I hit Chapter 13 and BAM! The book got even better with a plot twist I never saw coming. I stayed up until 1:30 in the morning to finish it. That meant I had to stay up until 1:30 in the morning the next day, too, to catch up on work I should have done the night before, but it was worth it.
The book was published in 2001 and I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on all the advice Sissy dishes out. She lives by the Southern Belle’s Handbook she created that is full of rules about life, such as “You have to take your life into your own hands; otherwise you can be damned sure someone else will take it in theirs.”
I even quoted Sissy’s Rule Number 24 when splurging on new makeup: “A girl has to look her best while she is still young enough to look real good.” There are quite a few other rules I am certain I will be applying to daily life.
If you haven’t read this book, you definitely should. And if you have, why didn’t you tell me about it?
Despres’s Web site is http://www.lorainedespres.com and her blog is http://lorainedespres.blogspot.com. I plan to check back at both sites frequently. There is a book club guide on the Web site (BUT—don’t read it until you finish the book!!!) http://www.lorainedespres.com/reading_group_guide.html.
I can’t wait to read her second novel, The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell, and the complete version of The Southern Belle’s Handbook.
By the way, did I mention that I love this book? If you’ve read it, tell me about your favorite part. If you haven’t read it, go read it and then tell me your favorite part!