REVIEW: White Trash Beautiful by Teresa Mummert
Dear Ms. Mummert:
Sometimes I think to myself that my reading results would have a higher success rate if I just read excerpts but in this case I did read an excerpt on your site and I was excited for the book. I bought the book the morning it came out but I didn’t realize that the excerpt would be the only decent part of the story.
Cass Daniels is a waitress living in a trailer park with her druggie mother and her abusive boyfriend. A stranger walks into her cafe and her life is changed forever. A down on her luck girl who gets out of a cycle of bad decisions is a book I wanted to read about. And while there are romance stories featuring characters, even girls, who drag themselves out of poverty, the excerpt hinted at this book being different.
Unfortunately, the promise of the excerpt dwindled quickly. Cass is a terrible waitress and employee. She is rude to customers, often taking unauthorized breaks so she can go outside, sitting with customers and drinking alcohol, and mope about her circumstances, and pretty much acts like she is the owner instead of an employee who is in desperate need for a job. Cass is really, really dumb. When Tucker comes into her bar she doesn’t recognize him despite loving his music. He’s in town to play a concert and it is very hard to believe that the concert wouldn’t have been advertised all over, including the radio station that plays the songs – Tucker’s songs – Cass sings along to. In fact, the improbability of no one recognizing Tucker is pretty high. The improbability factor is sent skyrocketing when Tucker’s band mates, twins, go into the cafe the next day at the request of Tucker and still no one makes the connection.
Tucker, the hero of the story, is so thinly drawn you can see right through him. He’s given few identifiable characteristics. He’s a rock star, has money, and is determined to protect Cass. Why, though, we have no idea. There is almost no effort at making Tucker into a realistic rock star. He is able to go to a nightclub with Cass and not get mobbed. He says that he is in every gossip magazine yet walks around unfettered with no bodyguards. When he gives a concert at “the pier” he jumps down and makes out with Cass below the pier. He has very little dialogue in the book. His actions consist mostly of standing around his motorcycle and asking Cass to come to his concerts. But he isn’t even given enough depth that I could call him a stock character. He just is this flimsy piece of tissue moved around the book to provide the ultimate escape for the heroine.
We know more about her abusive boyfriend and his backstory than we ever know about Tucker except this is told to us so late in the story that it’s hard to understand why she is still with the boyfriend and why she is constantly bailing him out. Instead we get paragraph after paragraph of how he mistreats her; how she doesn’t love him; how she is afraid of him. A reader is asked to fill in all the justifications, all the complicated feelings that a woman may feel even if it is contradicted by the text.
It’s easy to see why Cass is attracted to Tucker. He’s famous. He’s rich. He seems to care about her. Why Tucker is attracted to her is a mystery. I’m sure there are dozens of young pretty women in roadside cafes all around the country. Why Cass? Tucker interacted with her all of a few minutes before, I guess, he decides she is the one. Cass has no evolution. She has the victim mentality at the beginning of the story (which is completely understandable) but maintains the same mentality throughout the entire book. She is constantly crying. CONSTANTLY. I searched “tears” and there were 36 mentions. Nearly every scene ends with her crying or in tears.
I ended up seriously disliking this book because it was so weak in all areas but mostly because I felt like it was an insult to me as a reader. It was so weakly crafted. It’s not sexy. It’s not realistic. The first person narration is by someone whose only sympathetic trait is that she is abused and if that was taken away all a reader has left is a foul mouthed liar and cheat. The only thing good about the book is the excerpt. F
PS Spoiler. The ending was completely ridiculous.