When I thought the blog tour for Damaged Goods had fallen through, I posted my review of the book anyway, hoping people would stop by here and read. Thankfully, TWCS (the writers Coffeeshop Publishing) took back the blog tour, and I have the great honor to be able to post my review again and even better, a guest post from the author. Don’t miss the chance to learn about the inspiration behind one of the main characters, and don’t miss the chance to go out and read this incredible book.
Damaged Goods by Alexandra Allred
Hilarious Girl Power and then some.
That’s how I’d describe this book. From Joanna, who upon divorcing her husband takes an old house in a small Texas town in the divorce settlement, a house which turns out to be a money pit, to Suzette, who has her leg mauled and removed, thanks to a tiger—one of the wild animals she’d rescued—to the women who meet regularly at a local café, these women are people you don’t want to miss. Diverse, seemingly not a group of women you’d picture together as friends, they come to know each other and to help each other. Eventually, they take on the town’s main business, the one that provides the majority of the jobs, while it poisons everything around. Worthy of plots like Erin Brokovich and A civil action. And all the while I laughed and groaned and rooted for these women with all my heart. And I came to care deeply for them.
My initial reaction to Joanna and Suzette on first meeting them was that I wasn’t sure I liked them. I admit, I was tired and burned out when I started reading, having just finished a major project of my own, but when Joanna saw her money pit and yet determined to stay and make it work, I loved her and was on her side. When Suzette first mentioned the way she lost her leg, the animal rights person in me felt my hackles rise. But then the character threw it right back in my face, starting with something about “before you get up in arms about me having this tiger” and I realized she was rescuing animals that other idiots had tried to keep as pets, I was on her side all the way. Allred makes you laugh, even at how Suzette lost her leg, because of the amusing way the character tells the story. Later, as Suzette experienced tragedy, I grieved for her, and as Joanna didn’t give up, I applauded. I felt like I left this book with a group of new friends, friends I hope to revisit someday in future reads of this book.
I love that this isn’t the usual book, it’s not about seduction, and romance and things like that. It’s about friends, about women coming together to fight something wrong, something that on the surface, you’d think they can’t beat. Corporate greed, illegal immigrants, animals and the bonds of women, and all this brings this story to a very special place. I can’t wait to read more by this author in the future.
Post from Alexandra Allred
The Character of Suzette Lee
Please take a moment and Google search “Sue Pope.” You will see a You Tube video about this brave woman and read all kinds of information about the Sue Pope Foundation, Sue Pope Pollution Reduction Fund and Downwinders At Risk (www.downwindersatrisk.org). This is the real Suzette Lee. She is brave and strong, daring and now very, very ill. But even still, she is a leader and I am so proud that she is my friend.
I remember one day we were out at her beautiful property and talking about her life on her land. She has over 70 acres of weeping willows and rolling hills. In the flatlands of Texas, her property is an oasis. Once upon a time, it was also home to exotic cats and other wildlife, including wolves. Before that, it had been the base of a once prosperous Arabian horse breeding farm. Today, Sue breathes with the aid of an oxygen tank and, on bad days, doesn’t venture outside. I asked her very directly, “Why stay here?” She is downwind from the cement stacks and I had to wonder why she would stay on after all her animals, then her son and finally her husband died. But Sue just looked at me. “Why should I leave? This is my home.”
Why was it fair that big business could run her off of her own property? How could it be that dangerous practices and inattentive policymakers could allow so many people to get sick? How could the EPA allow more mercury into the environment? At one point, she asked, do you say, “Enough!”
For me, when creating the characters, Sue was always there. Though she was not physically present, she was always in my mind as other characters were developing. NO tragedy, no fire, no amount of bullying or threats could ever make Suzette Lee leave her homestead …nor can it with Sue Pope.