Monday, June 29, 2009

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen - Susan Gregg Gilmore

Looking for Salvation at the Diary QueenTitle: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Author: Susan Gregg Gilmore
Published: 2008 Pages: 293
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5

I foresee this being kind of a busy week on the blog. Wednesday will be the Non-Fiction Five Review post (is the current format working or do you have suggestions?) and I promised to do a What's On Your Desk meme. And hopefully I'll finish Tom Sawyer and get a review out. So, probably another four posts. Oh, and Sunday Salon will probably be a mid-year review if I can get it done before going out of town again. You'll forgive me the barrage of posts, right?

Wait, this is a book review! I remember seeing Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen last summer, and I immediately put it on my wish list. I love Southern fiction and this one sounded like it might be in the same vein as Fannie Flagg's works. Just like my favorite Chicken Fried Steak from Cotton Patch Cafe, Southern fiction screams comfort. Do you feel this way about books set in your locale?

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is set in the small town of Ringgold, Georgia in the 1970s. Catherine Grace Cline, a daughter of a preacher, knows she is destined for bigger things than what Ringgold has to offer and she dreams of one day breaking free. With the help of her little sister, Martha Ann, and her stand-in mother, Gloria Jean, Catherine Grace grows into a strong young woman who yearns for independence. The book chronicles her youth and into her young adulthood when she finally sets out for Atlanta on her own. But she discovers some things about herself and her family that could change everything she has ever known and home becomes more important than making it in a big city.

Looking for Salvation was an enjoyable read--the characters are just as colorful as you would find in any Southern fiction novel and Catherine Grace has witty sense of humor about her life. The book is often times funny and even more times heartfelt. In the end, though, it didn't do a lot for me--not like I was hoping anyway. I'm not sure if it was because the book is rather short and by the time Catherine Grace is a young woman the events begin to occur too rapidly or if it was simply timing? It was a fun and quick read, but it isn't one that will continue to be memorable in the long run. Instead, when I think of my favorite Southern fiction book, I'll continue to think back fondly of Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg.

This book, however, is perfect for a lazy summer weekend. I think many people would really like it and I don't have any major complaints, it just lacked oomph for me. Hmm--how does one even define oomph?!? I guess it's one of those things that you just know what you see it. Do you have a favorite genre that you go to when you are seeking reading comfort? Do you have a favorite Southern fiction book? Can you define oomph?


Amanda said...

Actually, for me, I've never felt comfortable in my locale, at least when I've lived in the south (which is most of my life) so I don't find any comfort in southern books. Generally, I tend to avoid them. I'm more comfortable, however, with midwestern books, and I was very comfortable the 5 years I lived there.

bermudaonion said...

I love Southern books and hope to read this one soon. Hopefully, I'll enjoy it more than you did. As far as Southern fiction, I love all Ferrol Sams books.

MISSY said...

I am a big southern fiction fan. This book has been on my wish list for quite awhile now...I think I might break down and buy it from Amazon. Thanks for the review!

Terri B. said...

I kinda like the title of the book!

Dar said...

Sorry this one didn't quite do it for you Trish. I'd like to read it one of these days. Comfort reading for me is Harry Potter. I know, funny but it is.

Debi said...

You know, I don't think I can define "oomph," but you've definitely got it! And you know I mean that in the very bestest way, right?

And Trish, sweetie, you also know that you could post ten times every single day, and I could never get tired of you, don't you?

To be perfectly honest, I haven't read tons of Southern fiction, but I've loved the ones I have read. Mostly the ones everyone's read. But last year I read this really sweet little YA book set in the South that I totally fell in love with--Sonny's House of Spies. If you ever happen to see it, you might want to give it a try. It's a pretty quick read, so even if you don't love it like I did, you won't have wasted much time. (Oooh, and it would work for the LGBT Challenge, too.)

Anonymous said...

I get very restless when I read books based based in my locale, I know it's weird.
Books that are set far away from my home comfort me, even southern American fiction is soothing for that matter. Have you read Mermaids in the basement, it's typical, charming southern fiction.

I can't define oomph either, but I know what you mean :)

Veronica said...

I enjoyed this book a lot. I had some issues with the ending, but on the whole I liked it. Sorry it wasn't quite what you were looking for.

Trish said...

*Amanda - Your answer is really interesting to me and kind of has me curious what it is. I could venture a guess, but then again I hate to assume. :) Do you have a favorite book set in the Midwest?

*Bermuda - I hope you enjoy this one! I haven’t heard of Ferrol Sams, but I’ll have to look him up!

*MISSY - I really enjoy Southern fiction as well—from funny to serious (although I prefer funny). Hope you like it!

*Terri - It is a catching title, huh? It’s probably what prompted me to remember this one after reading about it a year ago.

*Dar - Nothing funny about finding comfort in Harry Potter! I bet a lot of us could say the same (myself included).

*Debi - Ahhh, you make me smile! And just the thought of posting 10 times a day makes me anxious, so don’t expect it. :P It’s hard enough getting two posts for the entire week! I’ll definitely have to check out Sonny’s house of Spies—I’ve been needing another book for the GLBT challenge anyway.

*Violetcrush - I guess it depends on the locale! I haven’t heard of Mermaids in the basement, but with that title how can I resist?

*Veronica - Ooooh, I’d love to hear what you thought of the ending! Now that you mention it, I think the things that happened at the end of the book were what went wrong for me—just seemed like a lot of shock in a little bit of time

Amanda said...

Trish, I'm afraid I don't quite understand your comment back to me?? I must be misreading what I wrote or what you wrote...

That is, I understand the last question, about the Midwest books, but not the first part of the comment.

I'll have to get back to you on midwestern books.

Chelsea said...

Hi Trish!
Came across your blog as I was searching for book reviews ("Tender at the Bone" by Ruth Reichl) ... and since then I'm happily stuck :) Love reading your reviews, I'm a 'former' bookworm but I do pop up a novel once in a while. Right now I'm intending to start "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by Tracy Chevalier. (Have you read that?) ... Anyway, I'm just knocking to say hello! Keep reading and writing :)


joanna said...

I've been wondering about this one, because I really liked the title! :-) I find southern fiction comforting too, it has a warm feel to it... And no I can't define 'oomph' either! ;-)

Veronica said...

Trish - Mostly what I didn't like about the ending was the Lena Mae storyline. It seemed very out of left field and abrupt to me. You can read my whole review here (

Nymeth said...

Sorry to hear about the oomphlessness. I love me some Southern fiction, so I'd have been drawn to this too. You should give Daniel Wallace's The Watermelon King a try! If I remember correctly you weren't too crazy about Big Fish, but this is beeeeetter. And more southern :P

Also, don't apologize for posting often! It's a GOOD thing :P

Anonymous said...

Interesting and honest review! It's sad the book didn't left a more memorable impression on you, but at least it wasn't a bad book either. I know I have it on my TBR list somewhere, but I haven't read it yet.

Trish said...

*Amanda - You got my email :) But I'd still love to hear about some Midwestern books!

*Chelsea - Thanks for coming by! I haven't read Girl with a Pearl Earing, but I believe it's on the shelf. Did you ever read Tender at the Bone? I really enjoyed it!

*Joanna - The title is so great and I love anything Dairy Queen (the Texas Stop Sign, they say). It didn't live up to the name but it was still enjoyable.

*Veronica - Yup, I know just what you mean about the Lena Mae story--I also didn't like the bit about the pregnancy. Just seemed like too much at one time.

*Nymeth - Oh, I know I need to read Watermelon King!! Big Fish was good, but for me it just couldn't live up to the movie. Can anything live up to a Tim Burton film?? :)

*Infiniteshelf - I'll be interested in hearing what you think of this one. It was entertaining and fun, just not great. Sometimes that happens with you have high expectations, though. Thanks for coming by!

Literary Feline said...

I'm not sure I could adequately define "oomph". It could have multiple meanings now that I think about it . . .

Narrowing down what I turn to for comfort is not so easy. It depends on what kind of comfort I'm seeking from a book. Do I want something lighthearted and funny or something that will have me holding on for dear life, forgetting all my troubles while I take on someone else's? Sometimes too, I find comfort in beautiful writing, something slow and more literary. I'm easy to please, what can I say?

I've heard great things about Gilmore's book, although it hasn't made its way onto my TBR pile yet. It does sound like a lazy summer read. I am glad you enjoyed it, even if the ending wasn't quite what you were hoping for.

patricia harman said...

Hi Trish, My favorite movie is Princess Bride too. Can't wait for my grand daughter to get old enough to watch it with me, because my three sons and husband only want to see it once. One of my favorite authors is Margaret Atwood.

Since you're a read-aholic I thought you might like to review my book The Blue Cotton Gown, A Midwife's Memoir, (Beacon Press, Boston). As a midwife who no longer delivers babies, I see women for all kinds of gyn problems and early pregnancy. They sit in the exam room, in their thin blue cotton exam gown and tell me their stories. Sometimes I leave the room, just shaking my head wondering where they get their courage. The book is also about a medical marriage; my husband is an OB/Gyn and my partner at work and at home. If you'd like to see more about the book, go to If you'd like a copy to review, contact me at
Be well, Patrica