I picked this book up one evening and started reading, soon discovering it’d be one of those that I’d require a stretch of time to chew through without interruption. It is for this reason I put the book back down and picked it up again when I knew I would have a window of quiet time to dive in and really allow myself to absorb the story crafted here. For crafted it is.
Jazz Baby tells the story of a 13-year-old girl who has the voice of a much more mature woman. I mean that in more ways than one. When everyone she loves dies, I guess that adds to the reasoning there. I was also reminded of a time when girls and boys had to grow up much quicker.
Some parts of this book made me feel really uncomfortable. Like I said, because of the mature voice you often forget she’s a teenager and the odd quirk in the narrative cleverly reminds us she’s just a young teenager – and still all these nasty, horrible things are happening to her. You have to take a breath for a moment when you realise that. You couldn’t tell that the book (from an entirely female perspective) was written by a man either! The attention to detail was extraordinary and the dialects gotten down to a T.
I had to attune to the dialect even though I’m used to reading lots of different voices. However, it was strange how this need to listen to the words more carefully made me feel as though I was in Baby’s time and place. Her often poetic turns of phrase and perspectives took me right out of this time and into that one.
This is not a read I’d go for if I were looking for something romantic and light. The pace picks up massive speed towards the end and you’re on the edge, wondering what the heck is going to happen. There’s blood, guts and guns. You become invested in the story and the twists keep coming. However, it’s certainly a read that tells of meticulous research; knowledge of the Deep South, an interest in that era and a faultless attempt to work something the author is obviously passionate about into such a brave, honest, authentic work.
Buy it now!
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007Y7086S
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007Y7086S