Hot Fudge Sundae Blues

Hot Fudge Sundae Blues

4.5 2
by Bev Marshall

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A lyrical coming-of-age story set in the 1960s, Hot Fudge Sundae Blues is an extraordinary companion to Bev Marshall’s first two novels, Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain. Here again she mines the territory of the small town of Zebulon, Mississippi, where even the most seemingly ordinary folks harbor well-disguised heartaches and intricate secrets.


A lyrical coming-of-age story set in the 1960s, Hot Fudge Sundae Blues is an extraordinary companion to Bev Marshall’s first two novels, Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain. Here again she mines the territory of the small town of Zebulon, Mississippi, where even the most seemingly ordinary folks harbor well-disguised heartaches and intricate secrets.

Thirteen-year-old Layla Jay was only pretending when she knelt before the preacher to seek salvation. She was hoping to make her grandma happy and get noticed by the cute new boy in town. But religion truly piques her interest when a young, handsome visiting preacher stays at her family’s home. Wallace seems genuinely interested in Layla Jay’s life–until he meets her mama and falls head over heels, like many men have before him.

When Wallace marries Frieda, Layla Jay believes she will finally have the father she’s always wanted. But it seems that none of her dreams will come true as Layla Jay wrestles with her mother’s reckless ways, her unsavory stepfather, a best friend’s betrayal, and the longing for love’s first kiss. Yet everything pales in comparison to what happens next as Layla Jay is forced to tell a lie to save her mother’s world from crashing down.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Bev Marshall’s Right as Rain

“One of those quietly absorbing stories that draw the reader right in and never let go . . . Reading this novel is like sitting on a porch in a summer breeze listening to an old friend tell you a story you know well but can’t wait to hear again.”
–New Orleans Times Picayune

“An old-fashioned Southern family saga and a page-turner, a wonderful blend of comedy and tragedy . . . These voices ring true.”
–Brad Watson, author of The Heaven of Mercury

Publishers Weekly
Layla Jay, the endearing young narrator of Marshall's third novel (following Right as Rain), fakes salvation at the age of 13 to impress a boy at church. Religious themes play a large role in this coming-of-age tale set in the early 1960s, but the story actually revolves around a different kind of faith-a faith in people and in family, despite all their flaws. Layla Jay leads a relatively happy life in her small Mississippi town, but when her flakey alcoholic mother marries a hypocritical revivalist preacher, their home is thrown into chaos, and Layla Jay comes to realize that God answers prayers in perplexing and often painful ways. In the scattered, melodramatic first half of the book, disasters befall Layla Jay and her family one after another: her grandmother dies, her mother survives a near-fatal car accident, and Layla Jay escapes her stepfather's attempt to rape her only when her mother finishes him off with a 7-Up bottle. The second half of the novel then deepens into an exploration of the consequences of deceit and the nature of familial love. Throughout, Marshall propels the story with all-too-human characters whose faults are enormous and whose mistakes are almost inexcusable, but who are never beyond forgiveness. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. 7-city author tour. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
It is 1963 in Zebulon, Mississippi, and thirteen-year-old Layla Jay fakes comin' to Jesus in order to catch the eye of cute Jehu Albright. Layla Jay's Grandma is thrilled but Frieda, her widowed boozy mother-beautiful, reckless, and desperate to leave Grandma's home-is not about to follow her daughter's path, until she meets the charismatic missionary, Brother Wallace Ebert. A few short months later, Frieda and Wallace are married and Layla Jay's innocent childhood is replaced by the necessary vigilance of the stalked when Wallace turns out to be anything but holy. A series of calamities-Grandma's death, a terrible car accident, toss-away sex with a much older boy, and attempted rape by the brutal Wallace-implode with shocking violence, and Frieda is charged with murder. Marshall, author of Walking Through Shadows (Ballantine, 2005) and Right as Rain (MacAdam Cage, 2002), uses her gift for the fresh, charming voices of bright teens to weave an enchanting, wrenching story of a young girl trying to raise herself as she finesses the obstacles tossed her way by enormously imperfect adults. It is a lovely and highly recommended story that might take a bit of pushing because of the small typeface and its length. An author interview and a reading group guide are included. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2005, Ballantine, 272p., Trade pb. Ages 12 to Adult.
—Beth E. Andersen
Library Journal
Faking salvation to comfort Grandma is the beginning of 13-year-old Layla Jay's spiraling descent into a labyrinth of deceit in 1960s Mississippi. Layla Jay feels that she must compromise her soul because God-fearing Grandma is one of only two stable people who love her (the other being Mama, a curvaceous, Lucky Strike-smoking hussy who also loves men, music, and booze). What Mama really wants is a man to move them out of her parents' home, and she is not particular about her Romeo's credentials. Enter Wallace, an Elmer Gantry-like evangelist who's got something other than the Holy Spirit on his mind. When Wallace marries Mama, Layla Jay's haunting web of lies becomes more intricate and nightmarish. As in her previous novels (Walking Through Shadows; Right as Rain), Marshall has written another gem with rich, benighted characters whom small-town Southerners will recognize with affection or horror as one of their own friends, relatives, or unfortunate acquaintances. Marshall's natural Southern voice is a gift to readers who enjoy Sue Monk Kidd, Lee Smith, and Sharyn McCrumb. Highly recommended.-Mary Ellen Elsbernd, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.23(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.65(d)

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Hot Fudge Sundae Blues 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1963 at the Pisgah Methodist Church, thirteen years old Layla Jay week after week disappoints her grandma by not accepting Brother Thompson¿s offer of salvation. Grandma fears that her only grandchild will follow the sinning examples of her husband and her daughter. However when Jehu Albright comes to the church Layla Jay decides to impress this teenage Steve McQueen hunk of a boy by accepting Brother Thompson¿s prayers................. However God answers in mysertious ways as she sees Jehu with another ¿woman¿, her drunken mother marries Brother Wallace Ebert and is in a car accident, and grandma dies. When Ebert starts with twitching her nose and leering at her, but soon tries to rape Layla Jay, her mom intercedes with a 7-Up bottle. Life will never be the same in this household................... HOT FUDGE SUNDAE BLUES is more than a historical perceptive glimpse of the 1960s in small town Mississippi although that provides the background, the tale is more a deep family drama that looks closely at love between extended kin in spite of flaws, and deception and dishonesty to hide these defects from loved ones. What makes a loving relationship is not just shared gene pool, but the ability to forgive not necessarily to forget even the biggest transgressions. Bev Marshall provides a powerful perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly of human interactivity............ Harriet Klausner