Girls in Trucks

By Katie Crouch
Publisher:Back Bay Books, (4/7/2009)

Average Rating:
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3.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything.

But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters.

When some unexpected bumps in the road--an unplanned birth, a family death--lead Sarah back home, she's forced to take another long look at the fading empire of her youth. It takes a strange turn of events to finally ground Sarah enough to make some serious choices. And only then does she realize that as much as she tried to deny it, where she comes from will always affect where she ends up. The motto of her girlhood cotillion society, "Once a Camellia, always a Camellia," may turn out to have more wisdom and pull to it than she ever could have guessed.
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"Girls in Trucks"
By Katie Crouch

Average Rating:
Unleash it
3.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

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Katie Crouch's debut novel, Girls in Trucks, is the hilarious, heartbreaking tale of Sarah Walters, a Southern debutante whose endless quest for love and fulfillment takes her around the world and back again. Orbiting Sarah is a cast of characters whose misadventures keep the story moving, even as readers grow frustrated with our heroine's inability to rise above her self-destructive tendencies and see the proverbial light.

We first meet Sarah and her friends Charlotte, Bitsy and Annie at the Charleston Cotillion Training School, where you're not allowed to dance with your cousin under any circumstances, and students are strictly forbidden from dancing the Shag. Sarah, who lives in the shadow of her brilliant, beautiful sister Eloise, is a reluctant debutante at best, and unsurprisingly heads East for college. She eventually lands in New York City, where she slaves away as an editorial assistant and ruins an impressive number of relationships with nice, and not so nice guys. Woven into Sarah's tales of romantic woe are Bitsy, Charlotte and Annie's struggles with infidelity, addiction and low self esteem, respectively. What saves this novel from becoming a cliched tale of failed romance and Southern excess is Crouch's amazing wit, which magically appears every time her characters' self-loathing threatens the affection we inevitably develop for each woman:

I loved the neighborhood: tiny streets peppered by angry painters with peacock-colored fingertips and sturdy women from Sicily clutching armfuls of warm bread. It took us a while to shed our Southern ways, but after a few months we figured out that one's natural height should not be enhanced by one's bangs.

Crouch's sharp wit and keen insight into the dynamics between mothers and daughters, sisters, friends and lovers make her an exciting newcomer to the Southern fiction genre. --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

From Publishers Weekly
An unenthusiastic Southern debutante copes with the cruelties of postcollege New York life in Crouch's amusing debut. Sarah Walters is neither a misfit nor the queen of the Camellia Society cotillion scene growing up in Charleston, S.C. But when she and her fellow Camellias try to make a life in New York City, they find themselves coping in unexpectedly dangerous ways—from standard substance addictions to Sarah's fixation on preppy ex-boyfriend Max, a smooth and sadistic child of wealth. While the formula of young women in the big city seems destined for cliché, Crouch subverts most expectations; Sarah almost purposely misses an opportunity for happiness and stability with the gentle lover she met in Europe, and her ploy to ignite sparks with a college friend goes painfully awry. When Sarah goes back to Charleston and faces a perhaps too over-the-top family crisis (it involves suicide and lesbianism), the reader's left with the hope that the worst is over. Though this feels almost like a collection—each chapter its own story with its own narrative technique—Crouch's portrayal of a young woman's self-sabotage and the pitfalls facing young women in a cold world is wise, wry and heartbreaking. (Apr.) 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

"In the book's final scene, she leaves her characters in a shared moment of new joy, one that may or may not last, no guarantees, just like in life and in good literature." (San Francisco Chronicle )

''Sometimes, looking back on things that have happened to me, I can pin down exact moments when certain situations began to unravel,'' reflects Sarah, the insightful protagonist of Katie Crouch's captivating novel Girls in Trucks.... given all the predictable tales about young women, Sarah's genuine imperfection seems refreshing. A- (Entertainment Weekly )

"Lucky for her readers, Crouch put to use all her cotillion-girl knowledge when she wrote her debut novel, GIRLS IN TRUCKS. . . . In her acknowledgements, Crouch thanks her fifth-grade teacher, Dorothy Rhett, who told Crouch she was a writer. Rhett is surely proud. Maybe her cotillion teacher will be, too." (The Charlotte Observer )

"Sarah's voice is a funny, slim stiletto to the heart of friendship, desire and love. Her spare prose and sharp dialogue flay open a universal need to belong, whether to a place, a person or your own true self." (The Oregonian )

"A page-turner by every account, Girls in Trucks blends steamy scenes and heartbreak with an infectious, dreamlike prose, to deliver a graceful work of literature--not to be read while wearing white lace gloves!" ( - #1 BookSense Pick April 2008 )

"[A] very amusing debut" (Vanity Fair )

"[An] amusing debut.... Crouch's portrayal of a young woman's self-sabotage and the pitfalls fac ing young women in a cold world is wise, wry and heartbreaking." (Publisher's Weekly )

"In Girls in Trucks everything is cockeyed and wonderful-white-gloved drunks and stoned debutantes, the social rules of hot Charleston and icy New York. And at the center of it all Katie Crouch has brought us Sarah Walters, a devastatingly funny character trying to figure out not just how to manage the waltz, the cha-cha and various dances of heartbreak-but how to stay alive." (Victoria Redel, author of Loverboy and The Border of Truth )

"Readers will be powerless to resist Sarah Walters, the charmingly lusty narrator of Katie Crouch's debut novel. Her Charleston girlhood may have taught her how to be gracious to others, but it's the heartbreaking honesty with which she sizes herself up that makes her one of the funniest, most sympathetic literary heroines in years." (Jonathan Dee, author of Palladio )

"There are more gasps, sobs, laughs and surprises in these pages than in most people's entire bookshelves. Love never felt so sharp or real as in Katie Crouch's debut." (Andrew Sean Greer, author of The Confessions of Max Tivoli )

"It's always exciting to hear a new voice-and Katie Crouch speaks in a funny, spiky, highly original voice that carries a reader happily along through this charming novel. Her "Camellia Girls" carry the sweet scent of Charleston, but they've got a lot more going on in their heads than most ladies of Southern fiction. I enjoyed this book from beginning to end." (Mark Childress, author of One Mississippi and Crazy in Alabama )

"Katie Crouch's hip and saucy debut is exquisite, the best kind of book there is: It seduces you into inhaling it while at the same time begging to be savored. Perfect for beach, bus or rehab." (Karen Karbo, author of How to Hepburn and The Stuff of Life: a Daughter?s Memoir )

"Sarah Walters, the heroine of Katie Crouch's Girls in Trucks, is one of those people who never quite fits in-not with her Southern gothic family, not with her comically flawed lovers, not with her for-better-or-worse society sisters. The question is, at what cost? In spare, confident prose, Crouch perfectly captures the peculiar joys and pain of a life lived mostly alone. She is an author who knows the hunger, and resilience, of the human heart. She's also damn funny." (Will Allison, author of What You Have Left )

"Girls in Trucks is an extraordinary first novel, one that I'm betting will win the hearts of every reader who has ever sought love or dodged it, and anyone who just plain likes to read a book that's savvy, funny-and-sad, wise, and beautifully written. Katie Crouch has the best ear for dialogue I've come across in years; and she knows how to tell a story that catches us up and spirits us into a world that's achingly familiar but full of surprises. Wow." (Josephine Humphreys, author of Nowhere Else on Earth ) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. 

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Katie Crouch grew up in CharlestonSouth Carolina and studied writing at Brown and Columbia Universities. She lives in San Francisco.

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