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Girls in Trucks    by Katie Crouch order for
Girls in Trucks
by Katie Crouch
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Girls in Trucks, Katie Crouch does a very nice job of contrasting the traditions of the Charleston Camellia Society with the demands of modern life - and the vagaries of modern love - in the Big Apple and beyond. Her feckless narrator Sarah Walters grew up in a family house built in 1826 in Charleston, attending Cotillion Training School (casually called dancing school) every Wednesday night with her elite peers, preparing to be future debutantes.

At dancing school, Sarah formed an alliance with pretty Bitsy, wild and inappropriate Charlotte, and fat Annie, and these fellow Camellias keep in touch through the years, even though the only one Sarah really likes is Charlotte. Katie Crouch tells all their stories in Girls in Trucks, interspersed with amusing commentary, such as Sarah's thought that 'In fourth grade, boys are not something to analyze. They are, as a collective, a thing to be survived' or the elder Camellias' advice that 'men are pots. For the best meal, keep all the burners going on your stove.'

Sarah shares with us how it felt to have her evil cousin in a coma; to be summoned to visit her uber-successful sister Eloise - and her controlling Malagasy lover - at Yale; first love with a 'beautiful, beautiful boy' in a truck that's 'big and red and shiny'; her Northern college experiences; the moody, cruel, abusive man she loved, lost and obsessed over in New York; Charlotte's drinking and drug problems and eventual material success; Bitsy's seemingly perfect marriage and her cancer; and the bizarre behavior that Annie tolerated in exchange for companionship.

As friends' and relatives' lives get sorted out or crash around her, butterfly Sarah meanders through experiences and lovers, without much purpose until single motherhood and her father's death send her full circle home to Charleston again. There she meets a good-natured old school Southern man with a truck, learns to appreciate tradition, and confesses that she's addicted to love. Girls in Trucks is an engaging read with an appealingly vulnerable heroine.

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