Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Son Of A Gun by Justin St. Germain ~ review

About Son of a Gun: A Memoir

Son of a GunHardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (August 13, 2013)
In the tradition of Tobias Wolff, James Ellroy, and Mary Karr, a stunning memoir of a mother-son relationship that is also the searing, unflinching account of a murder and its aftermath
Tombstone, Arizona, September 2001. Debbie St. Germain’s death in her remote trailer, apparently at the hands of her fifth husband, is a passing curiosity. “A real-life old West murder mystery,” the local TV announcers intone before the commercial break, 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 beforeand after.
Long after his mother’s death is “solved,” closure still seems missing. 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, house to house, 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 and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, 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.
Brutally honest and beautifully written, Son of a Gun is a brave, unexpected and unforgettable memoir.

My take on this book:
"Son Of A Gun" opens up nine days after 9/11, the day that Justin learns that his mother is dead!  Twenty year old Justin St. Germain is pedaling home from school when his brother Josh informs him that their mother Debbie is dead, and that her fifth husband Ray is probably the murderer, although he is on the run. From this beginning we get glimpses of the family that they were. The sacrifices that his mother made and the grief that the brothers shared. Instead of being  a story about solving a murder or wanting justice or revenge the author allows the reader to learn who his mother really was. Someone that loved her children, but didn't always have the best taste in men. She had four failed marriages and her fifth husband wound up killing her. Woven into the story are glimpses of the area of Tombstone, Arizona. Overall, I found this book to be written in a down to earth manner where the authors words tend to flow off the pages and the feelings are authentic. A fast, yet sometimes emotional read I commend the author for sharing not only his loss but his attempt to overcome that loss and become someone whom his mother could be proud of. 

photo credit: William B. Bledsoe (c)
photo credit: William B. Bledsoe (c)

About Justin St. Germain

Justin St. Germain was born in Philadelphia in 1981. He attended the University of Arizona and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He lives in Albuquerque.
To learn more about Justin, visit his website,

Justin St. Germain’s TLC Book


Monday, August 12th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
Tuesday, August 13th:  Sophisticated Dorkiness
Monday, August 19th:  Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 20th:  The Relentless Reader
Thursday, August 22nd:  Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Monday, August 26th:  River City Reading
Wednesday, August 28th:  WV Stitcher
Thursday, August 29th:  From the TBR Pile
Friday, August 30th:  The Best Books Ever
Tuesday, September 3rd:  Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
Wednesday, September 4th:  Book Chase
Thursday, September 5th:  BookChickdi


1 comment:

  1. It sounds like this book packs an emotional punch!

    Thanks for being on the tour.


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