Book review: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Actually, I listened to it. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks and am a proud member of Audible.com. Audiobooks allow you to get stuff done while enjoying a story, a lecture, or listening to advice. My first book was Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, performed by the incomparable Edoardo Ballerini. I use the word performed because readers don’t just drone along in a monotone (like I probably do when I read aloud), they do the voices and they bring the story to life. When it’s really good, in all honesty, you can’t do anything else but listen.

After that, I was hooked.

I recently finished The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. You might remember the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, which is based on another one of Fannie Flagg’s books. The main characters have a few things in common, I think.

The best scene from Fried Green Tomatoes: “Face it, girls. I’m older and I have more insurance.” Nobody does it better than Kathy Bates.

Fanny Flagg performed her own book and it was nice to hear her lightly southern-accented voice tell the story while bringing out other characters – like the ones from Wisconsin with their own completely different accent.

Short review: It’s excellent. Give it a listen!

Long review: Below the picture. Watch out for spoilers.

Cover

We meet Mrs. Earle Poole Jr. Her first name is Sookie, but it seems that she has no identity except in relation to other people – wife, mother, daughter, sister. She feels like she’s never been good enough or smart enough. Well, in comparison to her narcissistic, drama-inspiring, southern belle mother, she’s pretty tame.

Until the letter arrives. At the age of 60, she finds out she’s adopted!

The story splits and we stay with Sookie trying to figure out her place in the world and also hear the story of her biological mother – a Polish Catholic girl from Wisconsin who flew airplanes in World War II!

I loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and its message of empowerment. Here again Fannie Flagg reminds us that women are amazing just by doing whatever it is that makes them happy and fulfilled.

It was a bit sad to listen to the history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs). They were just as good as the men and when they were needed, they were tolerated, but when they started to threaten the jobs of men who didn’t want to be foot soldiers, they were shoved out and forgotten. Only recently were these brave, inspiring women recognized and remembered.

By the end of the book, Sookie learns that she’s wonderful just the way she is. She has her own talents and she has grown into who she is all on her own. She has her southern roots in the family that raised her, but she also has her roots in the DNA that was passed down to her. Now, she’s learned to be proud of the life she’s lived – she was not “just a housewife”– and to use her talents to the fullest. It’s a good message for women and frankly anyone.

 

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