Wendy's Reviews > Snakewoman of Little Egypt

Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga
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Nov 06, 2011

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Read from October 19 to 24, 2011

Elements of the everyday combine with mystical events to form this entertaining novel where two stories combine and weave in and out. Jackson is a 40-year-old anthropologist who kind of wants to go back to Africa and find his daughter (whom he's never met) but also kind of wants to stay put and find a nice girl to settle down with. Sunny (aka Willa Fern) is an ex-felon just released after a 6-year prison stint for shooting her husband after he forced her to put her hand into a box of rattlesnakes. Sunny's husband is the pastor of the Church of the Burning Bush with Signs Following, a Pentecostal denomination that practices snake handling, drinking strychnine, and speaking in tongues. In prison, Sunny got her GED and took other courses while losing her faith in the process. Now she is moving into the apartment above Jackson's garage, and their two stories come together in intriguing ways.

This book captured me immediately -- I like the style and voice and the author's use of shifting narration. The plot itself did lag at times. I also found it a little underwhelming considering the sometimes strange subject matter. Sunny is a quiet narrator, taking even the most life-altering events at at even keel. When she does get stressed with panic attacks, I don't quite buy it. But upon reflection, I think that makes it more realistic. Things never seem as strange or out-of-place when they occur in our own lives. We just take things at face value and deal with what comes. At least I do. The stories in other people's lives always seem more exciting and interesting than the ones in our own, even when we have pretty good ones. We know them too well. So the fact that Sunny and Jackson take things in stride for the most part, with only occasional moments of emotionality makes the plot more believable, if a little less exciting.
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