Published June 6, 2017
Sky Pony Press
I first heard of “Cottonmouths” after I came across a friend’s review. After reading her review and the description of the book, I knew I had to read it.
Emily Skinner returns to her hometown after dropping out of college. She tells herself it’s just temporary, just like the fast-food job she’s taken but hasn’t told her mother about. She’s been back for about a month already. If she’s honest with herself, she’s already starting to worry that she’ll never leave Drear’s Bluff.
“Folks liked to slap their knees and joke that there are only two classes of people in Drear’s Bluff: Poor and dirt poor”
Emily had heard that her old friend Jody was back in town too but until catching sight of her at a local truck stop she wasn’t sure she believed the rumors. Now she wonders if the other rumors are also true. One day before she can stop herself she’s driving along a familiar road. She tells herself to turn around and go back the way she came. But it’s too late, because standing on the property right in front of her is…. Jody Monroe.
“Jody looked like she stepped out of a 90’s photo-shoot with ink black, bed head hair and heavy-lidded eyes. Tall for a girl. Skinny. Pure heroin chic”
Jody invites her to stay for a visit at the same time warning her about the people already there. Immediately Emily recognizes a boy both her and Jody used to babysit. But Troy is nothing like the boy she remembers. Troy Barnett once a local football hero…destined for greatness. However, a knee injury and subsequent addiction to pain pills changed his destiny completely.
“Football injuries and unplanned pregnancies had killed the dreams of Drear’s Bluff’s youth for years”
What Emily doesn’t understand is why he’s hanging out with Jody. As the night goes on and both the party and Emily lose control, memories of the last time she saw Jody overtake her.
But Emily and Jody aren’t in High School anymore. They’ve both changed. Then Emily comes across something that shocks her to her core.
“This is like the worst stereotype of the South come to life. All you need is a confederate flag over the fucking door”
Emily decides that maybe she should steer clear of Jody. But circumstances intervene and have her traveling that same road again. Emily struggles with old feelings as well as new ones. Memories and old aggravations start to come back in bits and pieces reminding her that some things never change.
How well can you really know someone? Can your feelings for them blind you to the truth even though there are red flags waving all around you? Sometimes wisdom comes with age but other times it takes being hit in the face with the truth a few times before you accept something that you may have…should have known all along. Though none of that makes accepting it any easier.
I was honestly hooked from page one. The authors descriptions of small town living are pure perfection. It’s an unflinchingly honest and compelling read. The characters are so well-written…flaws and all.
The story pulled me in and didn’t let go until I turned the last page after its shocking ending. “Cottonmouths” is story about love, loss, friendship, betrayal, desperation and so much more.
A fantastic debut novel from Kelly J. Ford. I can’t wait for more!
Many thanks to Skyhorse Publishing and Kelly J. Ford for providing a copy of this book for me to read in exchange for my honest review.