August 20, 2013

Son Of a Gun by Justin St. Germain



Son Of a Gun by Justin St. Germain
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Categories: Family Relationships, Memoir, Murder

Description:

About Justin St. Germain
Tombstone, Arizona, September 2001. Debbie St. Germain’s death, apparently at the hands of her fifth husband, is a passing curiosity. “A real-life old West murder mystery,” the local TV announcers intone, while barroom gossips snicker cruelly. But for her twenty-year-old son, Justin St. Germain, the tragedy marks the line that separates his world into before and after.
 
Distancing himself from the legendary town of his childhood, Justin makes another life a world away in San Francisco and achieves all the surface successes that would have filled his mother with pride. Yet years later he’s still sleeping with a loaded rifle under his bed. Ultimately, he is pulled back to the desert landscape of his childhood on a search to make sense of the unfathomable. What made his mother, a onetime army paratrooper, the type of woman who would stand up to any man except the men she was in love with? What led her to move from place to place, man to man, job to job, until finally she found herself in a desperate and deteriorating situation, living on an isolated patch of desert with an unstable ex-cop?
 
Justin’s journey takes him back to the ghost town of Wyatt Earp, to the trailers he and Debbie shared, to the string of stepfathers who were a constant, sometimes threatening presence in his life, to a harsh world on the margins full of men and women all struggling to define what family means. He decides to confront people from his past and delve into the police records in an attempt to make sense of his mother’s life and death. All the while he tries to be the type of man she would have wanted him to be.


My Thoughts:

When Justin set out to learn more about the murder of his mother I thought that it might be a bad idea. Don't dredge up the past you poor soul, it will only be heartbreaking! On the other hand I completely understood why he wanted/needed to go on this journey. It was painful but necessary.

Debbie was married numerous times, often to abusive men. She moved around often, lived in a trailer, and went off the grid more than once. On the surface the explanation for her death seems simple. She was a woman who made bad decisions and came to a bad end. But that conclusion isn't fair. Nothing is that simple.

The relationship between the author and his mother made for a compelling read. Also, the ties the author made between his own family tragedy in Tombstone, Arizona and the famous Gun Fight at the O.K. Corral added an interesting twist.

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29 comments:

  1. It does sound like the relationship between the author and his mother makes this an interesting read! Justin sounds like a survivor.

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    1. That's a great word for him Naida!

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  2. "On the surface the explanation for her death seems simple. She was a woman who made bad decisions and came to a bad end."

    That was my first thought! I'm curious to see what the deeper reasons are though.

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    1. That was the consensus from the people that lived in that town when she died. The author wasn't happy with that which is partially the reason for his digging into the facts. Very fascinating!

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  3. Huh. This one sounds almost too crazy to be true! (I love it when that happens!)

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    1. Yup, the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction certainly applies here!

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  4. I like novels with this set up but memoirs make it harder -- I just feel so terrible!! I like my tragedy fake.

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    1. Good point Audra! The feels from books like this can be extremely sad!

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  5. Thanks for the review! I received a review copy of this ages ago and have yet to get to it. It seems like a pretty short read (though emotional) and I'm hoping to read it soon...

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    1. Yep, it's a shortish read. Definitely emotional too. I hope that you like it, once you get to it ;)

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  6. This sounds absolutely fascinating. And since it's non-fiction and involves murder, my mom might like it!

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    1. And that's not meant to be sick humor related to the book's topic. My mom only reads non-fiction, and if there's murder she's happy.

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    2. No no, I knew exactly what you meant! I bet your mom would LOVE this one then.

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  7. I really liked this much more than I thought I would, he had some great insight into loss and grieving.

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    1. This was another one that pleasantly surprised me. That's happening to me a lot lately!

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  8. Interesting! Like you, I'd be afraid for him to dredge up the past even if I understood the reasons behind it. I'm glad you liked it and I might check it out!

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    1. I was nervous for him! He did learn a lot, not all of it pleasant :(

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  9. I agree with you about worrying for him too. It sounds like it could have made for a depressing read! This is the second good review I've read though and I've been enjoying memoirs lately, so I might give it a try.

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    1. If you enjoy memoirs you really can't go wrong with this one ;)

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  10. Digging up the past can always go two ways. Either it will bring closure, or heartbreak. I'm glad you enjoyed the novel, Jennifer :)

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  11. I had the same feeling when young Justin went back to investigate... it could have been so bad! But then if he didn't go there wouldn't really be a book :)

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  12. I have read reviews but haven't gotten this book yet. With an interest in memoir, this certainly has an intense twist to it. Guess you've made up my mind -- add it to the list! Thanks for a great review, Jen!

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    1. You're super welcome :) I hope you're able to get to this one!

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  13. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

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  14. I'm with you on the whole, ugh, don't go dredging up the past, but I also understand why you'd want to. Mom sounds like an interesting woman. Even if the lifestyle she leads is a little more reckless, it still can lead to an interesting story. Is it a little like Girlchild + mystery?

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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    1. I would have done the same thing if I were him. I would have wanted to know, even if it would be awful :/ You know, it is a bit like Girlchild. I didn't even think of that!

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