Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers
For those people who follow me in Texas, this is a local author.
This novel is an endearing story of a woman struggling with keeping herself and family together in a very modern world. The focus of the book is on the characters, and if you like realistic, good-intentioned but flawed characters, you’ll find a lot to love in this novel.
Johnnie Kitchen has problems, some past, some current. She’s a middle-aged housewife with children who are almost grown up. Bulimia has haunted her teenage years and continues to be a ghost that won’t depart. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the problems she will face.
The best aspect of this book is the most mundane. The novel excels at the everyday, pedestrian life of a housewife who is struggling to put her life on steadier ground. The author uses small details and little fleeting struggles to deepen Johnnie’s life, making her character a realistic exploration on issues any of us might face today.
There’s a lot to like about this book. The plot, with its unraveling familial mysteries, makes the book easy to read. The writing is clear and detailed without being floral. The suburban Texan town is written in such detail that the setting becomes an integral character itself.
For me, the biggest complaint, and the reason why I took one star from my review, was that things get explained a little too much. Feelings are always laid out neatly, and motivations are always handed to the reader (unless they are part of the mystery). It makes the book easy to read and understand, but also simplifies it too much for me. However, I’m well aware that not everyone shares my like for difficult books, and many people who pick this book up will not have the same problem (and may even like the book more because of it).
I recommend this to anyone, but I especially recommend this to women. Because the book revolves so much around character of Johnnie, I think the people most likely to empathize with her will get the most from it. It would be a good pick for women’s book clubs and church book clubs as well.