The Flood Girls
Setting – Montana
Gallery Books (February 2, 2016)
A Division of Simon & Schuster
Hardcover: 336 pages
E-Book ASIN: B010MH9ZO2
Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now.
Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.
In the spirit of Empire Falls and A League of Their Own, with the caustic wit of Where’d You Go, Bernadette thrown in for good measure, Richard Fifield’s hilarious and heartwarming debut will have you laughing through tears.
Needing a little change from the mysteries I usually read I jumped at the opportunity to review this book and am I glad I did.
Growing up in a small town, my family owned and operated a tavern and we even sponsored a baseball team so I felt right at home in Quinn and The Dirty Shame. We meet Rachel who has come home to make amends to the people she wronged in her past. Yes, she’s in Alcoholics Anonymous. Since letters didn’t work she has decided to do them in person. She is not welcomed with open arms but a spot on the baseball team and meeting a boy named Jake may help her to complete this very important step. She also attends a local AA meeting and receives support from some surprising people.
Rachel left a bit of chaos when she left town. She slept with a lot of guys, single and married. I know growing up in a tavern environment can be difficult, thankfully I had strong, loving parents guiding my way but I gave them some gray hairs too. Rachel’s life was nowhere close to mine. Her mother worked a lot and was emotionally unavailable and Rachel took an unsurprising path. She gets a second chance. The people of Quinn are a tight knit group. Will they accept Rachel’s apologies?
Richard Fifield has hit a home run with this debut. All of these characters, and there are many, are so well developed they positively leap off the pages. At first I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight but soon the vast personalities grew and it became easy. From the main characters to the bar patrons, the ladies on the baseball team, the firemen and everyone Rachel came in connect with, they were all believable characters. They are a pretty rough and tumble bunch. Their lives have not been easy and some tough times take place within the pages. The young man Rachel befriends has been struggling with his identity mostly because of his home life. His step father just can’t accept that he is gay and things take a huge and and very unexpected, at least by me, dark turn. I was afraid something was going to happen and when it did, it stopped me cold.
Fifield also knows to set the scene, the bar, the baseball fields, the trailer parks, his descriptions were fantastic. His pacing was perfect. The dialogue was great too, whether a phrase filled with sarcasm or a heart warming talk, or anywhere in between.
I enjoy reading stories that make me feel an abundance of emotions and this story truly did that. I can’t say I laughed out loud or say it “hilarious”, but there were some funny moments. There were some uplifting moments as well. It is the heartbreaking ones that are going to stick with me. I have a picture in my head that will be in there a long time. I think this story would be an outstanding choice for a book club. I know there would be some great discussions. I wish I belonged to one because I would love to talk about this book with others.
Richard Fifield earned his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in upstate New York. For the past twenty years he has worked as a social worker for adults with intellectual disabilities, while volunteering as a creative writing teacher in Missoula, Montana. Find out more on his webpage here.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”