June 10, 2013

Book Review: Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Book number two of the year! I picked up Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On at a little shop on Amelia Island back in March when I visited with my mom. It's a carefree book about all things southern. It has a light hearted feel with a deep south touch that only southern women can do. It's not a story though, so don't expect a main character or plot or anything like that. Instead, expect memories from the author's life all about her Southern Mama. From childhood to love and marriage to manners and social graces, Shellie Tomlinson explains her take on the southern lifestyle, and she even throws in all sorts of recipes that we southerners love.

You know, the subtitle of the book is "What Southern Mamas tell their daughters that the rest of y'all should know too." I don't think that's a totally accurate description of what this book is. A much better way to describe it would be: "What the author's Southern Mama told her." I don't if y'all have read Why Men Love Bitches (if you haven't, you should), but that's kinda what I was expecting here. I thought the author would give a fairly standard southern saying or attitude or what have you, explain why it's important in the south, explain why everyone else should adopt it (or at least be accepting of it), and maybe give a personal story regarding it. That's not what this was. It was much more this was my life, this is what my Mama did, and there you go. I didn't feel like I was really gaining anything from this book, which is what the title and subtitle imply. And I don't know about you, but when I'm expecting something a particular way and don't get it, I have a hard accepting what I'm actually getting and enjoying it.

I also thought the story-telling part of this book wasn't very strong. I felt like the author would start on something then move to something else without every really finishing her thought. It made it hard for me to really find "the point" to each chapter's subsections. Then again, I was also looking to gain something the whole time, similar to a self-help kind of book, and I don't think that's what this book is at all.

As a Georgia girl born and raised, I was also expecting to truly relate to the book. I am all about the South and my southern heritage, but there were many things in this book that I just couldn't relate to. The author is from Louisiana, so that probably has a lot to do with it, but I'm picky about my southern roots, and I don't like them being portrayed inaccurately. Now, I'm not belittling the author's life or experiences by any means. I'm just saying there are obvious differences between the Louisiana way and the Georgia way, so if you choose to read this book and you're from the South, don't expect to relate to every little thing.

All in all, I can't say I really cared for this book. It wasn't what I was expecting, and it mainly has to do with the title being misleading. It didn't match with the content of the book. However, there were some things I could agree with like the importance of a thank you note and dressing modestly. I also like all the recipes that were included, and I'm hoping to try my hand at some of them. But overall, I felt like I couldn't fully follow the author's train of thought. There were also so many personal stories that it was hard to relate to the book, and being a southern girl, I want to relate to southern books. It bothered me that I couldn't. I don't know. I don't like giving bad reviews, but this book just wasn't my favorite. You win some, you lose some...

P.S. What do y'all think of the "Read more" link? I don't like how some of my posts are really long on my blog. It's just not visually appealing. So I wanted to try this out. Let me know what you think.

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