Cover Image: Learning to Speak Southern

Learning to Speak Southern

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Member Reviews

I was looking for something fluffy and light to read, and while this was certainly a quick read, it had a lot more depth than I expected.  Loved the inherent Southern tone of the book, and true to any Southern tale, it had its fair share of family secrets that were unexpected.  This felt very cinematic to me, and I could feel the heartbeat through the entire book.
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The summary of Learning to Speak Southern absolutely drew me in! 

After the tragic death of her mother, Lex fled Memphis to go off on her own adventures. Due to tragic circumstances, Lex returns and her godmother makes a bargain with her, giving her a letter each day from her mother. Through the story, we see Lex start to understand her mother better through her writings, and discovers some hidden skeletons in the closet that were kept from her.

It was quite a family drama, and very interesting book as a whole! I felt intrigued the whole way through.

I really didn't like Lex - she just didn't experience any growth in my opinion in the story, and just was overall unlikable. 

Thank you Netgalley, author, and publisher for an ARC of this book!
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Learning to Speak Southern is a fantastic new fiction book about coming to terms with your past and also a love of language.  While the beginning started slow for me it eventually hit its rhythm.  The story is about a woman coming home after leaving on not-so-good terms.  At home, the woman she is staying with gives her a letter a day from her deceased mother.  They are parts of a diary she kept when she was much younger.  Many family mysteries are revealed and the biggest was a bit of a shocker.  I loved the history of words that the main character would scroll through.  I have a feeling this is book going to be a major success.  It really hits on all the right marks.
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This was a fairly quick and easy read. The book starts out with a hard loss to Lex and she goes home to Memphis where she discovers that the family who raised her kept a multitude of secrets. She goes on a journey through her mother’s past and learns some truths that were kept from her her entire life. 

To be honest I didn’t love this one. Lex reads as a privileged and kind of whiny main character. She’s been dealt heartache, sure, but haven’t we all? She tends to act selfishly and rashly until the very end but that sort of character development feels abrupt and sudden, not nuanced and organic.
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For lovers of Southern fiction or women's fiction, Learning to Speak Southern is one of those books you'll devour in one reading.  Lex comes home to Memphis from abroad after suffering a personal loss.  While trying to process the loss, she is stuck in her hometown also trying to process the very dysfunctional childhood she had, which caused her to leave in the first place.  As she begins to reconnect with the ones she loved, we can all root for her to find her answers and settle into a new life.
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Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for this ARC. 
Lex left Memphis after her mother died. She was set on making new memories and great adventures. Eventually Lex heads back home to her godmother and memories that she must now face and understand. She revisits old relationships and has to decide to rekindle them or let them go. Along this journey, she is given letters from her mother that she uses to discover her new life.
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I very rarely read the summary of a book - I either go for the  author, cover or in this case the title.  which really led me to think the book would be one of those genteel, southern novels.   Oy was I was wrong. ,It turned out to be so much better.  Lex calls her mother's best friend from Bali after a major disappointment, With no money to her name and no way to get home. .  Cami sends her the money and makes all the arrangements for Lex to get home.  Lex didn't really want to return to her home town -never felt as if s he belongs, lousy relationship with  her mother.  So she left and travelled the world.  returning to  her home was hard, but wasn't planning to stay.  Cami gives her one letter a day that her deceased mother had left for her.  When she finally receives the last one, many things are explained, but also she has to come to terms how her life could have been different.. 
A twisted  ending. that I never saw coming was simply perfect.    I loved t his book and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.  There are discussion questions included, which always makes it nice for a book club.
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How well do you know your parents? Children are often shocked that their parents had lives before they had kids. Lexi, goes back home to Memphis after a medical emergency. Her mom's friend, Cami, sends her a plane ticket and offers her house to Lexi so she can recover. In exchange for Lexi staying there, Cami gives Lexi her mom's old letters to read. Soon Lexi discovers she did not know her parents at all.
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Thank you, NetGalley, for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my honest opinion.   
This book was a lovely story about a world traveling lady named Lex.  Lex's life journey takes her from an unstable home life, around the world living city by city, into the loving arms of her mom's friend and only stable nest she has known in her life.  The story takes you in and out of letters that were written by her mother that are to give her insight of her life growing up.  Lex's journey is that of growth, pain and healing. I gave this book 3 stars. I thought the concept and story of this book were good.  I love Lex and her journey, but the mother's letters was hard for me to follow.
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I struggled with this book, I wanted to like it.  A young woman returns to Memphis after loosing a child.  To reconnect with her family and friends, she will read her late mother's letters and realize what means the most to her.
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Random thoughts while reading:

Odd sentences with repeating words “trapped ensconced” without any kind of marking like a comma between. It’s about language and the narrators love of words but the repetitive meanings of words like that interrupts a reader’s concentration. 

Odd editing of the ebook probably due to it not being released yet.  For example, the church bulletin at the beginning. 

I almost gave up on it in the beginning because of the pace and the choppy writing. You get used to it though and it makes sense. Lex’s thoughts are choppy and random. The journal entries from her mother are intriguing and I wanted to stay awake all night reading in order to solve the mystery. 

Foreboding. Like you can see the happy ending but there’s something inside telling you it can’t happen. The rug will be pulled out from under you. 

Not a love story but has an uplifting ending. A plot twist that I had already suspected was in a way devastating but I quickly reconciled to it. 

Lex - recovering from trauma recent and in her upbringing. Realistic. Wounded animal. Survival instincts. 

Grant - boy next door. Has his own issues behind the shiny veneer of his family life

Cami - fairy Godmotherish. Has a 6th sense about what lex needs. 

Setting - seems to be exactly how I’d picture Memphis though cleaner. Being from rural East Tennessee we have this notion that Memphis is dirty and you are guaranteed to be murdered if you’re out past dark. It was nice to hear that there are improvements happening there and that our stereotypes might be wrong. 

Plot - kept me interested even when I didn’t want to be. I had a feeling it wasn’t the fluffy love story I’m used to and I was right. I didn’t want to like this book but I wormed it’s way into my mind and I was just as confused as Lex on what she should do. I have that same flight instinct when things get too hard. She was a kindred spirit in a lot of ways.
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The mother-daughter relationship was interesting as are the insertions of the meaning of words. However, I soon grew weary of Liz and her discontent. I finished it but just because I wanted to see how it ends. Perhaps, it was just too long and whiney.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review this book!

Lex fled Memphis after her mother died, intent on having adventures and leaving the staid existence in her home town. A shocking loss and a call from her godmother bring her home years later, plunging her into a world where she has to relearn what it means to be family.

 What I found interesting in this book is that it focuses on linguistics, something I haven't even considered since a course in college. It's an angle I'd never seen before, and I enjoyed that. I also thought it was well written and flowed well. It's also a well crated mystery.

Lex, however, was not a likeable character. I feel like she spent most of the novel clinging to old hurts because she didn't want to actually change or understand  what her mother may have gone through. Honestly, as much as I empathized with her, I found her to be whiny and recalcitrant. At times, it was hard to read because she was so irritating. Overall, I am glad I stuck it out to the end, because it was a doozy.
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I really enjoyed Cook's previous novel HOW TO BURY YOUR BROTHER.  It was all about family relationships and this theme is also followed in LEARNING TO SPEAK SOUTHERN, although in a very different tone.  In SPEAK SOUTHERN, Cook show us a complex and difficult mother-daughter relationship and slowly exposes the basis for discord.  In the past few years, there have been a number of excellent novels about daughters who learn about their mother's past lives and Cook adds one more to the pile with SPEAK SOUTHERN  All of the characters were well-developed and the plot flowed naturally with a satisfying conclusion.
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