Mini Reviews #4 | Jaybird’s Song & The Breakdown

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Again? So soon? I’m afraid so. I liked Jaybird’s Song by Kathy Wilson Florence and it’s perfect for lighter southern fans, but I was quite disappointed with The Breakdown by BA Paris. Let’s see…

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Affectionately called “Jaybird” by the father she adores, Josie Flint’s idyllic childhood in 1960s Atlanta is defined by her role as the oldest of the three Flint sisters and crowned with the presence of her grandmother, Annie Jo— the maypole that centers the Flint family. Surrounding their world, however, is the turbulent South as Jim Crow laws come to an end. As Josie’s school desegregates and the country meanders through new ideas brought about by the Civil Rights movement, a personal tragedy breaches Josie’s world and shatters that perfect childhood. Josie’s story is told from her early teenage years and 35 years later when her beloved grandmother dies. And when a long-kept secret unfolds for the Flint family, a new kind of heartache begins.

I was looking for a change after a couple of serial killer books and I still had this book on my Kindle, so I thought it was time to read it (as it was published in February). This is the story of Josie, a woman who grows up in Georgia in the 60s. Many years later, in 2003, her grandmother passes away and she remembers her childhood and teenage years.

I had a small issue with the way the book was written. The flashback parts felt like the author was telling us stuff that had happened but we didn’t get to enjoy. Lots of paragraphs filled with sentences like: “She became my best friend and we did everything together. And two years passed and then we grew apart. And on my 15th birthday, I had a big party and everyone came”. In spite of that, Jaybird was a lovely novel, a nice, feel-good southern saga that made me imagine a different kind of life. So yes, I enjoyed reading it although it didn’t leave a lasting impression. I think I had similar feelings with Dollbaby: the secrets weren’t surprising enough because I had already read and watched tons of similar stories. Would I recommend it? Yes. Because that’s just my experience, after all.

Netgalley, Smith Publicity, 2017

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Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped. But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby. The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt. Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Most of you know that Behind Closed Doors was one of my favorite books of 2016. I knew that The Breakdown would be a different kind of experience because I read a lot of reviews, so I wasn’t as excited as I would’ve been otherwise. This isn’t a matter of simply being disappointed.

I must say I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I wanted to know what was going on and it was an easy read, just like BCD was. On the other hand, the first half of the book, maybe until 60% was quite repetitive and I didn’t think it was going anywhere. Yes, we get it: Cass is forgetful. She is confused, she forgets things. My main issue with the plot was that there were too many situations that felt coincidental and seemed too contrived for my taste. Unrealistic, even. I don’t want to dive into spoiler territory, but for example, there’s a scene where our main character, Cass, discovers the truth about something and it was so improbable that I couldn’t believe that was actually happening. And once we all begin to learn the truth, there were too many coincidences, just so everything could be connected. Like the weapon thing. I mean, really? Why would someone do that?

Still, I really liked how the ending played out, maybe because it reminded me of Behind Closed Doors and I’m a fan of that type of situations. But I can’t ignore all those coincidences.

Netgalley, St Martin’s Pres, 2017

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Published by

Annie

In a past life, I was probably a tortured police detective with a dark and traumatic past. Right now, however, I'm just a twenty-something bookworm who loves listening to old songs and watching 90s movies. I enjoy mystery and crime, southern coming of age stories and historical fiction set in the last century.

18 thoughts on “Mini Reviews #4 | Jaybird’s Song & The Breakdown

  1. I also loved Behind Closed Doors last year, but have been conflicted about trying The Breakdown. I’ve read some great reviews and other so-so. The over use of coincidences drives me nuts, so I think I’ll skip Paris’s sophomore book.

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  2. I’ve seen so many reviews saying The Breakdown was a let down, you’ve confirmed I made the right choice by giving it a miss haha! Plus I wasn’t all that impressed by BCD either lol

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  3. The Breakdown was okay but not exceptional for me. After all the praise I heard for Behind Closed Doors I was simply expecting more. My main concern was that it didn’t make me feel the fear she experienced. I still haven’t read BCD and I think this novel is one of the reasons why I’m not really aching to read it :-). Great little review !

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  4. Uhoh I have The Breakdown coming up next and that sure doesn’t sound promising… At least I know to lower my expectations now since you’re not the first struggling with it… Great reviews though!

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  5. “Yes we get it Cass is forgetful”…too funny:) Repetition is the worst and I often think when authors do that they aren’t giving the reader credit for being smart enough to keep info straight! As we discussed, I wasn’t a fan of Behind Closed Doors so I’ll be passing on this one

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  6. You are not alone in your disappointment with The Breakdown…. most of the reviews I’ve read had the same feelings. Such a shame, BUT I’m sure B.A. Paris will recover and put out another winner in the future. I’m sure it was nerve wracking going into the second book after so much success from the first….

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  7. The Breakdown doesn’t sound all that which is disappointing especially since it was one of our most anticipated reads. I can’t wait to read it though so we can discuss it. I am already curious about the things ou mentioned especially the weapon lol. Great mini-reviews.

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