After completing White Trash by Alexandra Allred, I can't help but be reminded of the small suburb I live in north of Chicago. Everyone knows the place and don't pretend that you don't. The place where everyone knows your name, who you're dating, the family you come from, and all your failures. Even big cities are made up of these little towns in the form of churchs, schools, neighborhoods, or even apartment buildings. These places where everyone knows everyone else's business... and wouldn't have it any other way. Allred is able to place a humorous, satirical spotlight on this type of social phenomenon in a page-turning novel that will have readers taking out their mirrors and wondering if any of the hypocrisies apply to them.
Thia Franks has returned to the town of Granby, Texas from the prestigious Duke University with her tail between her legs. She's an unwed mother and abandoned by her lover. Determined to make the best of the situation and provide for her daughter, she's works on the towns' newspaper The Recorder and for much of the novel is our narrator. Thia provides the insight into the small town of Granby and all its inhabitants. Circumstances begin to go awry once she hears someone refer to a baby as a "cute little niglet". These words are meant to be a compliment but the person saying them has no clue how defaming they are. As if things couldn't get worse for this small town, a popular, upstanding black man is found brutally killed and no one's coming forward.
Allred manages to really bring life to Granby in a very honest and comical way. From the town gossip down to the town slut, every character introduced is picked apart and very authentic. The police officers Fox and Wolf are hilarious in their hate for EVERY race including their own. Ms. Riley is hellbent on getting rid of the squirrels that steal her acorns. The quinessential mean girls (turned women) are provided to us courtesy of Tammy Whatley, Vicki, and Leann whom also run the town paper. And thanks to Alexandra Allred, I know what fainting goats are. There's a lot going on in this novel and I suggest anyone reading should take notes. There is also a lot of seriousness and relevance to so much that is happening around us in America now.
White Trash explores the seediness that happens in towns such as Granby. Instances of domestic abuse, drug use, racism, extramarital affairs, crime, and child molestation. Thia acknowledges that trash know they are trash and are even joke about it. Whereas, white trash folks have no idea they are who they are. They look down on people and don't care to see the irony in their ways. The best example of this is when Thia is confronted about not going to church. Thia is trying to be convinced that only those who go to church can go to heaven. Reflecting on this information, Thia realizes that the same people who go to church are the men who beat their wives, women who cheat the government, and people who have questionable sexual preferences. Their hypocrisy shines so brightly they are all blinded by it.
I may not have made it clear until now but I enjoyed White Trash tremendously. The small town is the perfect small-scale replica of the American landscape. This socially concious novel with themes of community, going home again, and courage littered with humorous tidbits will stick with readers for a long time. I look forward to reading more by Alexandra Allred.****
*copy provided by Netgalley for review purposes