“Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie’s life seems practically perfect—she’s lovely, charming, and a successful agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can’t help but wonder how she wound up living a life so different from the one she dreamed of as a child. But just when things seem completely hopeless, and the secrets of Maggie’s past drive her to a radical plan to solve it all, Maggie discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems, has at least one little secret.”
I am a fan of Fannie Flagg. I have been since the first time I saw Fried Green Tomatoes as an early teen. The humor was so dry, but in your face in a way that I really appreciated. I also loved how much of a non-issue sexuality and gender were to the main character. So I decided to give her other works a chance. I started with I Still Dream About You.
The book opens on an elderly woman talking about how she plans on killing herself, but it isn’t like in a YA book where this would be overly emotional. This was written in a very dry and to the point way. It made the character feel tired and worn out by life, but still capable of being rational. The suicide was never a hostile plot so despite suicide being a trigger of mine, I was never actually upset by this focus.
The characters were for the most part older women who were dreaming of the old days, except for one who was dead. This character may be the most badass example of a woman I have ever read. Despite being dead this woman had the most impact on the story than the other characters combined. This plot driver was Hazel. She was three foot four inches and a whole hell of a lot of spunk (her favorite outfit was a bunny costume that Maggie’s mother made and she was even buried in it!). Hazel was pretty much the perfect person, not because she was without fault but because she saw every challenge as a new adventure and was constantly trying to brighten up everyone’s day. She is the type of person you would want on your side no matter what was happening. The way she got a husband was perfectly in line with the character and a very humorous chapter (she just decided one day that she wanted one so she got on a plane, went to a conference for little people, and picked out a husband!).
The book very much focused on how Maggie was trying to end her life, but kept getting interrupted by things she had to do. First her friend wanted to go see a concert and she surely couldn’t let her friend down. Maggie was very much a push over and a character that was easily manipulated, but she was raised that way and she was often cited as being a sweetie. This changed over the course of the book and it was distressing to her and then it was liberating. The different things that kept getting in her way and how annoyed she was getting about them was also humorous. She seriously couldn’t consider killing herself without making sure her parents got flowers on their graves every holiday for the amount of time that Maggie figured she had left in her life.
This book showed through humor that one person can have such an impact on peoples’ lives that it is incredible. If the book just stopped at the main plot then it would still be a wonderful book, but there is a secondary plot of Maggie and her friend finding a skeleton. Maggie then has to find out who it was because she is a worrier. The plot line introduced more ideas of women power and women’s liberation in an very unexpected way that I appreciated. I was not bashed over the head with the idea as I was being by the one character that was planning on running for mayor. The cast of the book were all humans. They felt real and they felt very much like little old ladies that had no intentions of staying home and being quiet, especially Hazel.
And true to what I have seen of Fannie Flagg, a character’s sexuality was not a big issue unless they made it one. Maggie had issues with the idea that she had seen a married man for years. Then when she finally reveals this to a friend, the friend responds saying that she had seen a married professor who was female. I got some dirty looks on the train when I burst out laughing at the this scene and many others.
5 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this book.
You can buy this book here.