standingWho wrote this book and when?
Fannie Flagg wrote this in 1996.

Has there been a film version?
No.

Who are the important characters?
Neighbor Dorothy Smith- a homemaker who has her own radio show
Bobby Smith – Dorothy’s son
Betty Raye Oatman – a daughter of gospel singers who longs for the quiet life
Anna Lee Smith – Dorothy’s daughter
Doc Smith – a pharmacist and somewhat the town glue
Hamm Sparks – a young man who dreams of being a politician
Cecil Figgs – The Undertaker King
Jimmie – the boarder at the Smith house
Vita Green – a beautiful woman who heads up the Arts Committee
Mother Smith – Doc’s mom who lives with the Smiths

What’s it about?
This isn’t really a story with a plot except that it tells the story of the growing up of America through the maturing of an American family – the Smiths. It also incorporates the stories of Betty Raye Oatman, Hamm Sparks, Tot Whooten, Norma and Macky, and the Neighbor Dorothy Radio Show.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It’s written by the same woman who wrote “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”

Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes, it’s very good!

How did this book make your list?
I spotted it on the shelf at my LL.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
“Maybe it’s because they are still short and close to the ground or maybe their senses have not yet been dulled by the years but to children days seem longer, smells stronger, colors brighter, noises louder, fun more fun. Bobby was no exception. He viewed the world each day through brand-new eyes, almost vibrating with excitement. If you could have plugged him into the wall he would have lit up like a 500-watt bulb. This was all very well and wonderful for him but for his family it was like living with a sixty-eight-pound puppy running in and out of the house all day. And this day, as usual, he and Monroe were up to something they shouldn’t be.” – p 17

“Besides, he could not really be a coward; he had too much to do. He had to fly planes, sail the ocean, and ride in rodeos, save girls, beat up bullies. He had to pitch winning games and make touchdowns, round up cattle and command spaceships to Mars. By the time he reached home he had convinced himself that it could not possibly be true: He was not a coward.” – p 138

Anything else?
Fannie Flagg is just her pen name…

Personal thoughts:
This was a lovely book – very mellow and heartwarming. It didn’t have much drama in it that was stressful – it just seemed like…life. Which I’m sure was Flagg’s intention. She did a splendid job of making the characters real to me and that’s very important to me as a reader. They seemed like family. I could relate from everyone to Bobby to Mother Smith. The only person I disliked was Hamm, and I’m pretty sure it was just because he was a politician and an idiot when it came to his wife. This woman’s writing is astounding. Nearly every passage had me wanting to share it with my husband. I was either laughing out loud or empathizing with the characters. I highly recommend this book as a fulfilling read.

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