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Songbirds and Stray Dogs

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  34 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 July 2019 by Main Street Rag Press
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Average rating 4.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  54 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cody Sexton
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

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  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Well Read Beard
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-books
What a wonderful first novel. Meagan Lucas is an amazing author - I am so happy that I took the opportunity to get in on her work early. I will be able to tell y'all how wonderful this book is for the foreseeable future. Then one day, you will finally break down and read her 2nd or 3rd book and I will be like "Yeah, I been tellin' y'all that for years."

First of all - beautiful cover - crazy good title ( It comes from a Pat Conroy quote )

Imagine really being unwanted, really having no place to
Evan Williams
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Amanda Hash
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Lana Hendershott
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
Casey Anne Clark
I always have the best of intentions with regards to writing book reviews, but I never seem to post them. Today, I’m going to break away from my norm and tell you a few thoughts about Songbirds & Stray Dogs.

I have to be honest—the teaser blurb on the back jacket doesn’t do this book justice. I opened this up thinking I could predict what this story was about, or at least its tone.

Ya know—Southern names, diners, pie, the Bible & Southern “hospitality”. . .


This is definitely NOT
Colin Griffith
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm something of a neophyte when it comes to Southern fiction, so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this book—or how I would react to it. I was rewarded with a heartfelt, sometimes gut-wrenching novel populated by warm, flawed, and deeply imagined characters. "Songbirds and Stray Dogs" beautifully draws together two conflicted, uncertain individuals to each other during what could be considered a life-changing, life-defining period for both, transforming them from archetypes into ...more
Elliott Turner
Enjoyed this! So, this book is more of a pageturner with a criminal element than a single mom bildungswoman. Jolene gets kicked out of her home by her aunt after getting pregnant, and through look - good and bad - ends up in the mountain towns of the South. She meets a kind man named Chuck, but Chuck has his own past and pressing problems: including an addict sister.

You definitely will care about the very realistic characters, there's great observations and details about working class life in
Amber McMillian
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was really lucky to receive an ARC of this book, Songbirds and Stray Dogs. As a new fan of southern fiction, I had high hopes in loving this book and Meagan Lucas definitely delivered!

It tells of Jolene, a young pregnant woman who was kicked out of her home with no where to go and a man named Chuck, who has to take care of his 13 year old nephew. Their paths cross due to unforeseen circumstances, and they have to try to live their lives as normal as possible.

I really loved the storyline and
Amber McMillian
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this book. As a new reader of southern fiction, I had high hopes that I would enjoy reading it. And Meagan Lucas definitely delivered!

A young pregnant woman, Jolene, is kicked out of her home with no where to go. A man, Chuck, has to take care of his 13 year old nephew. These two cross paths due to unforeseen circumstances, and try to live life as normal as possible.

This book was incredible and I really enjoyed it! If you’re a fan of southern fiction, then do
Phyllis Jones Pisanelli
I thoroughly enjoyed “Songbirds and Stray Dogs” by Meagan Lucas. This novel kept me engaged and I had a hard time putting it down.

Several characters were lovable and some were despicable. The author created a great blend of characters. The story was not sugar coated at all and while the book dealt with a large range of emotions it did not come off feeling contrived. This story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Meagan Lucas has a beautiful writing style and I am impressed with her debut
William Burtch
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of resilience, the fragility of ties that should but don’t always bind, and hope in the face of challenges seemingly insurmountable. Love and loss framed in a vivid sense of place with characters that captivate and stir emotions from admiration to loathing. I was fully invested in the protagonist, Jolene, from the opening page, her will and toughness as well as her heart and vulnerabilities. The premise and plot were supported by masterful dialogue and pacing. Loved this book.
Charlotte Hamrick
Meagan drops us into the world of Jolene and Chuck, two small town Southerners doing their best in difficult and sometimes harrowing circumstances. Chance throws them together again and again as they navigate impending motherhood, a troubled teenager, and relentless bullies. You’ll have to read this heart-pounding story to find out how it ends. Don’t miss out!
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The true test of fiction (for me anyway) is the ability to transport the reader-help them loose themselves in the narrative. Meagan Lucas has skillfully crafted a story that does just that. I didn't want to put it down but when I had to I couldn't wait to pick it up again!
Wm. Brett
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully crafted story that I was eager to get my hands on and then didn't want to put down until I was done. It's not often I read a book in one sitting, but Songbirds and Stray Dogs had me hooked, and I couldn't walk away until I knew Jolene's story.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish this had gone on longer...

Loved the Premise of the story, but it could have been so much longer, so much more detailed, so much more fulfilling had the author given it a little more time to percolate.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This debut author is going places! This book is about Real people with Real problems in a small southern town. Gritty at times and tell it like it is writing- I enjoyed every minute and fell in love with the main characters!
R.F. Mechelke
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished Songbirds and Stray Dogs last night, and it brought me to tears. Meagan Lucas did a great job of making the characters come alive. The evolution of the characters was masterful. I cannot wait to read her next novel, hopefully soon.
Katherine Tweedle
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nanci Konsavage
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Am I missing something? Everyone loves this book. Nothing special. I kept thinking it took place in the 50s, not the 80s.
Dec 03, 2019 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Lisa by: Trina Hayes
Shelves: library-hold
ILL request
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You truly KNOW Jolene & the others, excellent writing, a compelling story. You may think you know what’s coming, and you will be wrong! Read this NOW.
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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 Composition at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and is the Fiction Editor at Barren Magazine. For fun: she haunts bookstores, walks beaches, murders houseplants slowly, and reads.

Meagan’s recent short fiction