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Alabama Chrome

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A novel about poverty, violence, and the stories we tell ourselves. Found family keeps Alabama Chrome from becoming a depressing read.

Alabama Chrome, by Mish Cromer, is a story about found family and the stories we tell ourselves and each other, set in a tiny rural town. When Cassidy's campervan breaks down, he gets a job at a bar in town and just kind of stays there. This is a story about a drifter, and so the story drifts. There's not really any tension for most of the novel, instead we follow Cassidy’s aimless movements as he settles in and gets to know the other residents. Most of this is a slice-of-life, as we watch characters going about their lives in this rural town.


I love the kind of novel that explores found family and complex friendships, and this town is full of memorable, but believable, characters. Sure, it’s mainly Cassidy’s story, but as Cassidy meets and becomes close to others, we discover their stories too. 


A lot of the story deals with inspiration p0rn, those heavily publicized stories of kindness and support. These articles make me feel insane -- why should we be inspired by a teacher giving a lesson from a hospital bed or coworkers donating their own limited sick time to a colleague with cancer? Why do we not see these as evidence of a deeply diseased system? So I found myself disliking the characters who delighted in watching a reality show based on sharing these “random acts of kindness,” and I was relieved to see other characters consider the effects of this show and the situations that require such dramatic aid. 


As Alabama Chrome meanders through a depressed, rural town, the novel looks at the poverty and domestic violence that shapes the characters’ lives. There are no facile conclusions here, just an exploration of how one event affects another and the choices we make. In this story, as in our real lives, often there is no good choice that will resolve all the problems well. Our characters are often presented with a series of slightly-less-bad options, which helps develop even the minor characters into flawed, struggling humans. 


When the host of the reality show comes to town, planning to make those expected, uplifting conclusions about salt-of-the-earth rural residents, more of Cassidy’s past is revealed. There are, again, no smooth conclusions here, instead, there’s an awareness that regrets and traumas of the past can be eased by sharing with friends.

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I'm an avid reader and book blogger, I'm always looking for new books and new authors. I like historical fiction, literature, scifi, specfic, thrillers (without gore) and general character-driven fiction.

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About the author

MISH CROMER is a writer and therapist from London. Drawing on her cultural heritage of Greece and the southern USA, she writes novels about the complexities of family, with a focus on women's narratives and the meaning of home. She has three children and lives in London with her husband. view profile

Published on October 15, 2020

Published by Leaf by Leaf imprint of Cinnamon Press

60000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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