Cover Image: A Peach For Big Jim

A Peach For Big Jim

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Member Reviews

A Peach For Big Jim is a book that is heartbreaking at times, yet it has some beautiful moments as well. I loved Big Jim, Widow Jones and Chloe, and the latter has a great character arc going from an innocent girl to maturing a bit during the novel. The characters are in general well developed and so is the storyline. I would highly recommend this book.
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Immediately from the beginning I liked the main character Chloe. Even though she is only 13, she’s a very wise girl. She’s loving and caring but still has her childish innocence. Throughout the book you can see and read how Chloe grows up and loses that innocence. She loves her dad but also knows that what he does is wrong, very wrong. But unlike any other YA main character she doesn’t try to change her father’s opinion, because she knows it’s useless. Even though she knows her dad is a bad person, she still sees the good in him (at the beginning of the story at least), and that’s also not something you come across a lot.

My favourite character apart from Chloe was without a doubt Widow Jones. She knows she has it good and knows that she is privileged and that makes her want to help people who aren’t. Widow Jones is also a caring and loving woman, but she is also flawed. She has made mistakes. I just love it when characters aren’t just good or bad, but they’re morally grey. It makes the characters just so real.

As a whole this story just felt so real. All the characters were very well developed. The plot was also greatly developed, even though the story was also a bit character driven. The pacing of the story was great. Suspense and ‘moments of rest’ were alternated in a nice way.

The writing style of this book was very southern American. I can tell you that I usually hate it when books are written that way, or just any way that isn’t ‘proper’ English (or any other language I read in). But because it is set in the forties and because it obviously takes place in the south of the USA, it added some extra authenticity to the story and also made the story once again feel like it was something that actually happened. And I also have to say that my mother tongue is not English, but the book was still super understandable to me, I had no problem understanding the southern writing style. 

I don’t have a single complaint about this book and can even say it is one of my favourite, if not my favourite read, of 2019 so far.
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"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't. Henry Ward Beecher."

Amongst my collection of favourite books there are sadly only a few where a young female is given the opportunity to narrate her story demonstrating independence in both thought and action; breaking convention and defying those around her for the greater good. Think Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird) or Mattie Ross (True Grit) or Dolores Price (She's Come Undone) or , more recently-and btw brilliantly, Marie Grosholtz (Little by Edward Carey). Yet here, in A Peach for Big Jim, Lisa Belmont has created a character who can proudly stand amongst the best.

Chloe Jane Mason lives in South Carolina at a time where, despite the abolition of slavery, one's rights were dictated by the colour of your skin. Whilst a few strove to overturn the extreme discrepancies between the rights and freedoms of individuals of different race, changes were slow and tensions were high. 

Chloe has a couple of influencing voices: in her teacher, Miss Lilly, who educates her class about the 'separate but equal' doctrine of education, the underground railroad and General Robert Lee's surprising views about slavery. and Widow Jones who employs Chloe and her mother to help run her large -and empty- house. But louder and way more forceful are those of her father (Tucker Ray Mason), brother (Caleb) and just about every other white member of the community.

However, when one day 16 year-old Big Jim, son of Hattie-Mae and the victim of fable, folktale and rumour, saves Chloe from an alligator in Foxhole Swamp, she begins to form her own ideas about people and the community in which she lives. In Belmont's words; "She flies with her own wings." Tasking herself with teaching her saviour and new companion to read, a series of events and family secrets threaten to destroy all of their lives.

Belmont's book tells a gripping tale which explores what it means to be free and the struggles and sacrifices that people endure in order to get what they and others deserve. At one point Chloe reflects; "I was more entrapped than he was." as she finds herself isolated by her conviction: a daily experience for any person, past or present, trying to strike out and finding themselves a lone voice amongst many.

I highly recommend this book and am most grateful to Netgalley and the publisher for sharing an advance copy with me in return for an honest review.
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Not the book for me could not get into it it looked like a great book but I t was not the book that holed my interested
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