Jo Anne B's Reviews > South of Superior

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood
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Aug 05, 2011

it was ok
Read from August 04 to 05, 2011

The premise of this book was not believeable. What 35 yr old engaged woman is going to give up her job, apartment, and relationship in order to go wipe some stranger's butt in another state just because her dead estranged grandfather's lover asks her to? Only a fool does that. Are we supposed to think Madeline is some kind of good person and martyr for doing this? Dumb is the only thing that comes to my mind.

Madeline's mother was pregnant with her at 15 and dropped out of high school to work the streets in Michigan and after she gave birth, abandoned her daughter and just left. Her father refused to take custody of Madeline so she ended up being raised by a neiighbor, Emme, who then moved to Chicago. This woman loved Madeline and raised her like a mother would. But then she got sick, Madeline tended to her care and inherited her apartment and some money when she died. She worked as a waitress and had been with her fiance for 3 years. Ok, so she really didn't have a career and spent her most recent times taking care of an elderly woman. So it would make sense if she used this time now to think about her career and do something for herself. But she gets a letter in the mail from a lady, Gladys, she never met who dated her grandfather whom she doesn't remember other than knowing that he didn't want to take care of her when her mother left. So we are supposed to believe that she quits her job, breaks off her engagement, and is on her way the next day to Michigan to take care of a stranger.

Gladys had promised room and board and a small amount of money in return for tending to Arbutus. When Madeline finally arrives Gladys is super mean to Madeline and full of secrets and guilt, everyone in town is poor and can't pay their bills, so Madeline won't be getting paid for her services and they don't have enough money to buy groceries. Gladys is being sued by the grocery store for not paying for her food, she hasn't paid her property taxes or utility bills, and owns a decrepid, nonfunctional hotel. Madeline barely watches over Abutus, goes on tons of walks, and ends up getting a job as a waitress. How is this better than her life in Chicago?

Madeline went to Michigan because "she had nothing to lose" despite having a job, apartment, fiance, and friends. After being raised by a kind, caring, loving, and compassionate woman she still felt the "emptiness inside was more real and more pressing" having been abandoned by her biological family. Why would she even care about them? She never met them. She was just a baby and then Emme took her and raised her like her own daughter in Chicago. Why would she care about a family that didn't care about her? And didn't she care about her fiance? To up and leave him like that is absurd. Isn't that like what her real mom did to her? Didn't she resent that?

After a while, Madeline feels invested in the town. This occurs after crashing her boss's truck and not showing up to work getting her fired from her job. And to think that she has the nerve to call her ex-fiance and ask him for money to fix the truck! And he said yes! Who are these people? She also left candles burning in the abandoned hotel which ended up starting a fire. She was super rude and judgemental of the people in town. But she adapts and ends up caring for all of them, selling her Chicago apartment, buying the hotel, falling in love with her former boss (who only started a relationship with her after the druggie, prostitute lady he loved crashed her car and got paralyzed and pushed him away) and they raise the druggie woman's son together.

But Madeline "wanted to stay there and be a part of something". "Everybody in this tribe didn't love each other. They disagreed and gossiped and argued; they laid traps for each other and rejoiced when the trap was sprung; they relished placing blame wherever it would stick and took pleasure in one another's mistakes. But when there was trouble there was help." Pretty messed up that a woman born into a dysfunctional famiy but raised by a normal one can only find true comfort in a dysfunctional town. I'd say this book is quite a bit ways south of superior.
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