The Justus Girls by Slim Lambright
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Format: Hardcover, 368pp.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, Incorporated
Pub. Date: June 2001
Reviewed by Thumper, AALBC.com
I should let go of my preconceived notions that I am beginning to grow tired of the girl-coming-of-age story or the sista-girlfriend relationship tales. It seems that each time I'm ready to pick up the notion and wave it about my head like a banner along comes a book that makes me put the notion on the ground again. This time the book is The Justus Girls, the debut novel by Slim Lambright. The Justus Girls is a nice story of friendships and community. I laughed, amen-ed, and was shocked by this story of four women that were childhood friends but as they grew older their friendship suffered. High enjoyment.
The Justus Girls was a drills team those four girlfriends; Peaches, Jan, Roach and Sally Mae formed when they were pre-teens in 1958 Philadelphia. The formation of the drill team solidified the bond shared by these four friends. The bond suffered as the girls grew into young women and found themselves on their own roads. The Justus Girls comes together some 30-odd years later when Peaches is discovered one morning on her front porch steps with a shot to the head. The remaining Justus Girls come together to bury one of their own and to discover who killed their friend. The search for the identity of Peaches killer leads the friends to uncover their own secrets in order to heal their broken bond.
The Justus Girls is a book that left me full, happy, and with an underline sense of longing. The four friends are a hoot. Peaches is a recovering alcoholic full of hope. She's in love again and life is looking good for her until the morning she is discovered dead by her mother. Jan is a widow who can't seem to shake her mourning and depression after the death of her beloved husband, Junie. Roach is now a Muslim. She's content with her life, her husband and her three children that is until her ex-husband starts custody proceeding for her twin sons. Lastly we have Sally Mae who is reluctant to shake loose her secrets. Surrounding the friends is a full assembly of supporting cast of characters including a pimp, a madam, prostitutes, and crack heads, just a big mess of folks.
I loved the book. Enjoyed it from cover to cover. There are the funny moments, the boo-hoo moments and the, dare I say it; I think I will, there’s the you-go-girl moments. I enjoyed it anyway. What I most loved about the book was the sense of community that the characters evoked. It brought back memories and stories that my parents and grandparents told me a long time ago, about getting things done. Loving and treating people with the basic level of respect no matter their lifestyle or how they put food on their table. There are times when I think that the things we let fall by the way side while we climb that ladder of upward mobility believing that it will make our climb easier, are the things that we should grasp in a death grip, close to our hearts.
The Justus Girls is a book that I know many of you will enjoy in our forthcoming summer reading season. I'm glad I got a little peek at the book, which is set for release June 2001, and on what I hope will be a prosperous career for Ms. Lambright.