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Songbirds and Stray Dogs

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In Songbirds and Stray Dogs, Jolene has been abandoned by her addict mother on the steps of her spinster aunt’s door at eight years old. She’s spent the last thirteen years living in the shadow of the pain her mother caused and trying to prove herself worthy of her aunt’s stingy love. Unintentionally she becomes pregnant. When the father refuses her and her aunt kicks her ...more
Published August 2019 by Main Street Rag Press (first published 2019)
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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Well Read Beard
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
I read this a 2nd time. I have 13k characters left in this review space, I am probably gonna use them all while preserving the original review from October. For now, all I can say is it was even better on 2nd read. It's a beautiful, beautiful story full of the little lyrical phrasing bits that I love. It's all in here. Love doesn't quantify how I feel about this book, Sometimes the right book just lands on the right reader. It just won a BIG Indie book award. You HAVE to read it.

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Edward Lorn
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My video review will be up in about two weeks. In the meantime, buy this. Read it. You're welcome. ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-author
This pulled me in on the first page! The story of a young girl, Jolene who is raised by her aunt when her drug addicted mother drops her off at age eight. Jolene is a loner with no real friends and tries hard to prove her worth to her aunt. When Jolene becomes pregnant her aunt throws her out. With nowhere to go Jolene heads for the mountains where she meets other people, some help her and some don't. This is a heart breaking coming of age story told in true southern grit that will haunt you lon ...more
Cody Sexton
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the hardest things for a writer to perfect is dialogue. Which is probably one of the many reasons that I feel such a repugnance at having to read something written in dialect. It’s rarely, if ever, used correctly, let alone effectively, and as a result, pricks the ear like a badly tuned musical instrument. But, whenever I do happen to come across a good piece of dialogue, it begins to takes on the form of a great song. It becomes music. And the dialogue presented here, has managed to sing ...more
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just about a week or so after finishing this book it was announced that it won the First Novel Prize at the Indie Book Awards and deservedly so. Meagan Lucas has crafted a beautifully written character driven tale that I think everyone can relate to in one way or another.

Songbirds & Stray Dogs sings of the outcasts, the downtrodden, the down on your luck and things just don't ever seem to go right kind of people. The people who try their best but their best never seems to be quite good enough. 

May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written novel is full of characters who will are so real that you feel like they are people you know in your everyday life. You'll laugh and cry with them and keep hoping for a happy life for them. The book is written so beautifully that it's difficult to believe that this is a debut novel for Megan Lucas. I am anxious to read her future books.

The year is 1982 and the location is Beaufort, NC. Jolene is a few years past high school. She has been raised by her spinster church goi
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was the last book I read in 2019, and what a way to close out the decade!

I tend to mostly read horror, but I'd seen this book strongly recommended by a reviewer I greatly respect, so I grabbed a copy and it jumped up my tbr. It's considered Southern grit lit, and as a Southerner, I couldn't agree more.

For a year or so, my family lived in California. We were homesick for Kentucky, so just after Christmas 2000, my mom and I started the long drive back. The first time we got in range of count
Evan Williams
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book! Halfway through the reading, the wee hours of the night demanded sleep but a restless two hours later I had my advanced reader copy back in hand and did not put it down until the words "THE END" came too soon. Satisfying in every respect, the voracious reader in me yet salivated for a few more pages, a hundred more pages. I simply could not get enough of the perfect harmony of setting, characters, and storyline--realistic people forced into difficult situations with unpredi ...more
Amanda Hash
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this evocative debut and I was blown away. As an avid fan of Southern fiction, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of this novel and it did not disappoint. Meagan Lucas has written a poignant, powerful tale of family, determination, and redemption, with characters so real they jumped off the pages and into my heart. I had tears in my eyes through much of the book and had a hard time putting it down. If you only read one more book this year, make ...more
Ross Jeffery
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Songbirds & Stray Dogs is an astonishing accomplishment in a debut novel and there is no surprise that this book won the ‘Next Generation Indie Book Awards for best novel‘ because it is a scintillating book, one that grips the reader and takes them on an unforgettable encounter, one which you will leave battered, bruised, scarred and broken. The scars reminding you long after reading that you have indeed just been run through the mill and the emotional trauma that Lucas inflicts in abundance on ...more
J. Maddux
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t plan to read this book. It’s not the genre I usually read. For some reason I kept seeing it pop up in my Amazon suggestions. Then I saw other youtubers I follow do reviews. So I figured I had to check it out to see what all the fuss is about.

I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t plan on finishing this book. The main character was not one I felt I could relate to. She’s not the kind of character I usually read. But then I kept reading a little more and more. And
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
I love Southern Lit,it is one of my favorite genres. This book started very strong and went awry about 2/3 of the way in.
I really enjoyed the authors ability to create characters you loved and rooted for. And characters that you wanted dropped into a pit of alligators.
My biggest issue with this book was the lack of resolution for a few characters and situations. I am not sure if there is going to be a sequel but the book was left open ended.
Over all I have the book 3 stars because of the strong
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing

In her debut novel, Song Birds and Stray Dogs, Meagan Lucas gives us characters so real and sympathetic that we know them intimately. Right off, the reader’s heart wrenches for Jolene, a pregnant young woman left at her bible-thumping spinster Aunt Rachel’s doorstep by her drug addict mother.
Lucas wastes no words. In the very first line, we are given a sense of Jolene’s body type and the lowdown of her relationship with her aunt as they’re driving:

“Jolene stared out the
Matthew Willis
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Right from the outset, the lush, evocative prose drew me right into the world of the novel. I’ve never been to the US, let alone to North Carolina, where the book is set, but that didn’t matter at all, and as I read I became immersed in the setting, although to call it a setting does not do justice to the rich, real and fully populated world Meagan has conjured up. (I looked up some pictures of Hendersonville after I finished the book and was not surprised to find it looked just as I had picture ...more
Kari Pattinson
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I put off finishing this book until I had the proper time to give it the review it deserved. I had the opportunity to read the first draft but put it off and never finished it. I don't know if it was a mistake or it made me love this book even more because I recognized certain parts of the novel as pieces I had loved in the original manuscript.
This debut novel by Meagan Lucas is one of the best I have read in a long time. I fell in love with the under dog and recognized very easily this could b
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle
This book had me from the moment I started it and I seriously could not put it down! Jolene's story made me feel so many emotions as hurdles just kept getting thrown her way! I just wanted to jump in the book and try to save her and give her a hug! This girl truly had nobody, when she ends up pregnant and thrown out of her home with her aunt, and she needs to start completely over. With no family she starts a new life in a new town and meets some very kind and some very horrible people that affe ...more
Ginger Pinholster
What a lovely, irresistible debut novel. Meagan Lucas crafts such vivid, compelling characters, and this book is a real page-turner, too. I found myself rooting hard for Jolene, Chuck, and Cash, while hoping the bad guys would meet an untimely end. The sense of place is strong here, and the author is a gifted storyteller. I look forward to her next book.
Southern lit can be a tricky thing for me. At its best, it's extremely gritty and engaging. At its worst, it's all country-lyrics-come-to-life. So when the book leads off with Jolene, our twenty-one year old protagonist, pregnant with nowhere to go - the baby daddy gone and the auntie who raised her kicking her out - I was prepared to chalk up Meagan's debut as the latter. I just can't stomach a story in which the leading lady is down and out and in need of a man to rescue her sorry ass. And don ...more
C.J. Bow
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jolene is a newly knocked-up 21 year old who fights tooth-and-nail to keep her pregnancy under wraps. When her body betrays her secret, she is cast out to make it on her own with no place to call home.

This read knocked me out. Flat out levelled me. I regularly read horror and dark fiction, but this is a tale of true horror. The ugly in everyday people. The dreary forecast of those destined for a life in the dirt. The beauty in small hope and resiliency. Every ragged emotion was pulled out and l
Cindy O’Quinn
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Songbirds & Stray Dogs - Debut Novel (WOW!)

A story built on strength and realistic characters. Families are created in many ways. This is a tale of how one family came to be, regardless of decades of hurt, deception, & death.

Highly recommend!
Josh Lucas
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Songbirds and Stray Dogs grabs you from the first word to the last. The characters feel like friends you've always known. This author is a master at her craft and I can't wait to read her next work. ...more
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not ashamed to say I got weepy twice reading this novel. It's great gritty Southern lit. ...more
Margaret Yelton
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
In the beginning I found this book a little hard to get into only because I was sitting at hospital with my boyfriend and I would read a page then put the book down. Finally after a few chapters in, I got totally involved in reading this amazing book. It pulls at alot of my emotions, and I loved the strength that Jolene showed in this story. It was a gritty protrayal of life when being pregnant before marriage was extremely frown upon. I would recommend this book to others. I received a copy of ...more
Melanie Falconer
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love southern fiction and was excited to get this book by Meagan Lucas, a new author to me. The title was interesting and I discovered it’s a Pat Conroy quote. Jolene, the title character, is in a constant struggle to prove her worth to herself and others. You will root for this young woman, abandoned by so many before she lands in Flat Rock, a town she hopes to make a new start in. The story is a story of the resilience of the human spirit!
Brian Bowyer
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Stunning Debut

This novel is one of those rare gems that comes along once in a great stretch, even if the miles between are filled with excellent books. The characters are vibrant, the prose lush and engaging, the tale layered with heartbreak and desperation. I had seen this book recommended by reviewers I admire, and it not only landed on my list of all-time favorites, but is one I expect to revisit on a regular basis. Songbirds and Stray Dogs is a stunning debut novel, and I look forward to r
Kayla Whitter
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted at

*I received this book free in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.

TW: Sexual assault, violence, death, abandonment, pregnancy, addiction

When Meagan Lucas reached and requested I review her novel, Songbirds and Stray Dogs, she was remarkably clever and kind in her email. Her novel, while it sounded interesting, didn't sound totally up my alley, but a combination of her charm and the book sounding "interesting enough" convinced me to
Katherine Tweedle
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jolene is a not-so-recent high school graduate, the very incarnation of the Southern idiom "bless your heart." Sweet as shoo-fly pie, optimistic beyond reality, and naive as anything, she finds herself in a bit of bother (read: her baby-daddy don't wanna hang around for the birth of their child). Now cast out of her aunt's house—the only home or family she knows—Jolene is forced to manage her new life, and pregnancy, alone, in an unfamiliar town.

Meanwhile back at a different ranch, Chuck has pro
Sarah Wolfe
When I settle down and read a book, I typically know within the first few pages if I'm going to like it or not, if it is going to be a chore to get through or not. I knew I was going to love this novel within the first paragraph, the first few sentences even.

One reason I knew I was going to love novel was the language. Lucas wields it like a needle to weave a vibrant, beautiful world for her characters to inhabit. The reader is easily seduced into Jolene's -the main character- world. You'll fin
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Songbirds and Stray Dogs by Meagan Lucas is a Southern fiction novel that revolves around two characters who have both found themselves in situations that feel impossible, particularly at the the age of twenty-something. Jolene has been smacked down by life since her earliest childhood, abandoned and orphaned (and made to feel a burden about it), bullied, taken advantage of by a man who saw her as a prize, and tossed to the curb by literally everyone she knows at her time of greatest need. Chuck ...more
Lana Hendershott
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Megan Lucas’s protagonist, Jolene, is a spunky young woman who is forced to deal with life’s hard circumstances with very little support from family or friends. The story is set in the mountains of Western North Carolina in the early 1980s, but many women in other parts of the world will identify with her. Jolene has been raised by an aunt (her mother was unable to care for her) but when Jolene finds herself unmarried and pregnant, her aunt kicks her out. From that point on, Jolene struggles to ...more
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Meagan Lucas is originally from St. Joseph Island, Ontario, but now lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two children. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. For fun: haunts bookstores, walks beaches, murders houseplants slowly, and reads.

Meagan’s recent short fiction appears in:The Santa Fe Writer’s Project, The

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