Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Flood Girls

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield
Gallery Books: 2/2/16
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781476797380

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield is a highly recommended novel about strong women and one young gay boy in small town Montana.

Rachel Flood fled Quinn, Montana (population 956), nine years earlier. Now she is sober, and looking to make amends and atone for her drunk, promiscuous, out-of-control behavior that alienated most citizens of this small town. Rachel's father has died and left her his dilapidated trailer, so she is ignoring the advice of her Alcoholic Anonymous sponsor and is moving back to Quinn and into his trailer. The one person who she is really desperate to mend her relationship with is her mother, Laverna Flood, owner of a bar named The Dirty Shame and coach of a women's softball team.

Once Rachel moves in she meets her neighbor and becomes friends with 12 year old Jake. Jake loves wearing the right, perfectly stylish and well-coordinated outfit for every occasion. Jake was also her father's friend. Her father even built a shed to house Jake's wardrobe. It seems natural that Rachel and Jake would understand each other and strike up a friendship. Rachel used to be best friends with Jake's mom, Krystal, but she's taken up with her live-in loser boyfriend Bert, and the new baby.

As fate would have it, Laverna is incapacitated and Rachel ends up taking a day shift at The Dirty Shame to help her mother. Even worse than that, she is recruited to play on the Flood Girls team despite the fact that she doesn't play ball. The Flood Girls is the name of the team coached by Laverna.

The town of Quinn is populated by a quirky group of citizens known by their nicknames (Black Mabel, Red Mabel, Martha Man Hands, Bucky, Jim number 3) or their family's last name. At night roving gangs of drunken, pugnacious lesbian silver miners drink hard and cause trouble at The Dirty Shame. Drinking seems to be the main recreation - that is until soft ball season starts.

This is a funny, well written, entertaining look at an odd small town and its inhabitants. Fifield brings the development of his larger-than-life characters to fruition and as he covers basically a year in this small town.

I'm torn on rating this book. While reading I was actually becoming a bit disturbed by the overt stereotypes used to describe the diverse cast of characters, The lesbian miners are all big, tough  women, wear flannel, drink excessively, and fight. Jake is gay so he loves clothes, ironing, sewing, and fashion. The church people are all described as if they are from some plain-sect. The church women all dress alike in modest home-sown blouses made from the same pattern, wear denim skirts, and no make-up, naturally. The men in short sleeve button down shirts with ties.

Setting the stereotypes aside, I did find The Flood Girls enjoyable. The ending is shocking and memorable. In some ways it feels out of place in this novel that was more wacky-small-town-life rather than the dark side. I'm going with 4 stars because of the blatant stereotypes, but I have a feeling I will be remembering this book for the ending.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Gallery Books for review purposes.

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