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As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me: A…

As Hot as It Was You Ought to Thank Me: A Novel

by Nanci Kincaid

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This is a tale of a childhood in rural northern Florida. Although it's a novel, there are certainly autobiographical elements to it. It's set in the 1950s in Pinetta, FL -- a tiny town on the FL/GA border -- the town in which the author grew up. At the end of the book, Kincaid enumerates "the snapshots of memory" which she "offered" to Berry Jackson's story -- her father who served as principal of the one school in town, her small two-bedroom white house, the chinaberry tree in the backyard, their yellow cat, the omnispresence of snakes, the photos of her as a toddler running around ouside only in underpants.

Picture of "Where Berry Jackson lived, Pinetta, Florida": http://nancikincaid.com/gallery/

It's a novel of wonderfully developed characters and the small town dynamic that thrives on gossip as bees do on honey. The town has its own social hierarchy and a rivalry between the Baptist and the Methodist church. Bored adults flirt with each other, passions flare, adolescents run away from home, families thrive and dissolve.

Again -- this novel is a picture of a particular place and time. But it is desire that drives the action. ( )
1 vote janeajones | May 23, 2015 |
I enjoyed this first because it was such a great story and so well written. I also enjoyed it because I live near Pinetta and Madison and so it was like reading about home. I'm not sure about any quicksand near Pinetta, but she got the snakes right! ( )
  psherman | Sep 11, 2011 |
great characters, love Berry, her family, her neighbors
  Kaethe | May 22, 2008 |
Nanci Kincaid has created a small, southern town set in the 1950's that is so wonderfully vivid that one inhabits the space with Berry, her dissolving family and colorful neighbors. From the death tests her brothers devise for the numerous snakes (snakes resonate throughout the setting and the novel) to the relentless humid heat to the hurricane and its damp aftermath this book describes central Florida in a way more real than the Disneyworld dominated tourist destination of today.

Read it for the descriptions of the relationships, the poor white trash family outside of town, the rival churches, the chain gang come to rebuild after the hurricane, the bone-crushing poverty. Read it for the memorable descriptions of starting the car after the hurricane and the celebratory bonfire. Read it. ( )
2 vote RidgewayGirl | May 20, 2008 |
This was a little slow-moving for me at first, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. The characters rang painfully true, and the setting was so real to me. I swear I felt like I was sweating along with the town of Pinetta every time I sat down to read it. ( )
1 vote kellyholmes | Jul 26, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316009148, Paperback)

Nanci Kincaid's As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me is the touchingly honest story of Berry Jackson, a young teenager growing up Pinetta, Florida, home to two churches, a school, and a gas station. Berry spends her days soaking up the lives of her parents, Ford and Ruthie, her brothers Sowell and Wade, and an amusing array of neighbors that include a wayward preacher, a shotgun toting father of six, and the town's (relatively) wealthy businessman. As Berry navigates her way through young adulthood, she unearths a number of truths and lies that will ultimately serve as the foundation for her sense of self. ("It was not really that I longed to be pretty so bad, I swear, it was that I longed to be real. In Pinetta it seemed like being pretty was the one thing guaranteed to make a girl real.")

The book starts off slowly, and some readers may find themselves losing interest in Kincaid's descriptions of Pinetta's long, hot summer days and their inhabitants. However, once the town is hit by a powerful tornado and Berry's father disappears with the town beauty, the pace picks up and readers are rewarded for their perserverance with an exciting tale of mystery and intrigue. The plot thickens when a chain gang rolls into town to help rebuild the roads and the school, and a certain convict steals the heart of Berry and the rest of the townsfolk. Even after his awful crime is revealed, the people of Pinetta can't help but keep a place for him in their hearts.

Kincaid does a commendable job of getting inside 13-year-old Berry's 13-year-old and showing us how no experience is ever truly black or white. In fact, Kincaid is so talented that by the end of the novel, while allegiances may have shifted a bit one way or another, readers will have a hard time saying goodbye to Berry and her supporting cast of memorable characters. --Gisele Toueg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

"Thirteen-year-old Berry Jackson has more good sense than all the Bible-thumping grown-ups in her hometown of Pinetta, Florida. In the woods behind Berry's house are the swamp and the snakes and the quicksand, where men are said to have been swallowed up whole, leaving only a hat or a handkerchief as evidence." "Pinetta is the kind of small southern town where not much happens in a day but a lot can happen in a summer. As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me tells the story of the long, hot summer when Berry's father disappears, her mother lusts after the preacher, and a handsome convict comes to town to repair the dusty roads damaged by a hurricane." "Berry doesn't understand her world perfectly, but she calls things what they are - sometimes that's as much clarity as anyone should expect. In a town where everyone with a dream seems to want to flee, what Berry ultimately discovers is that you don't have to run to find yourself."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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