Title: The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie
Author: Jaime Primak Sullivan
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Family, Humour, Memoirs
Dates read: 19th – 20th December 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: I didn’t have the life energy to waste on games.
Jersey-bred, tough-as-nails Hollywood publicist Jaime Primak Sullivan has been crossing the line all her life. She isn’t afraid to say what everyone is thinking when it comes to love, sex, friendship, and many other topics that are all too often sugarcoated in well-mannered company. But when a meet-cute scene right out of a Nora Ephron movie upends her life, Jaime soon finds herself an unlikely transplant in an upscale suburb of Birmingham, Alabama – a reluctant “knish out of water” smack-dab in the Deep South, starting a life with her new husband, the perfect southern gentleman.
Jaime enters the heart of Dixie with her fists up, but eventually learns she must let her guard down. As she struggles to adapt to her new world, she befriends a group of southern belles, and the very women she thought her Jersey personality was most likely to shock and repel become her most surprising allies. Jaime soon discovers that while southern belles may have a secret code of behaviour northern girls don’t always understand, when it comes down to helping a fellow woman, no one is more thoughtful, more generous, and kinder than a belle.
In The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl, Jaime shares her hard-won lessons on southern etiquette, deep-fried foods, college football, the peculiar methods of southern dating – and all the unexpected homework a girl receives when she crosses the line… and decides to stay.
This was one of those memoirs that is completely, totally and utterly considered to be “laugh out loud”. I giggled and chortled my way through this book in total and utter joy. This is one of those stories that I will pick up again and again. There is something light and joyous about the whole storyline that really got to me and made me imagine every single moment Sullivan describes with perfect vividity.
The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl is a fairly typical fish-out-of-water story. The fact that it’s all true just makes it all that much more intriguing. I mean, many fish-out-of-water stories are based in fact, but this story has that extra ring of truth to it. Plus, you can just picture this big-haired, lough-mouthed jersey girl just blundering her way through the south. There is just a great sense of reality to this story.
I felt like this story was really written in two parts. And was pretty much two love stories. The first was Sullivan’s love story to her husband. I found the story of his courting and their relationship to be fascinating. I loved the slow-going, beautiful relationship that they shared. And the way that they are both able to negotiate their past hurts to finally come up with a new reality that leaves them both happy and feeling… well, complete, to as much of a degree as that ever happens.
The second love story though, is my favourite. It is about Sullivan’s belles. Her gorgeous girlfriends who have helped her negotiate the morals, intricacies and social norms of the belles. Although Michael was a great story, I loved the girlfriends even more. It’s an acknowledgement of the power of women and the ways in which we need them in our lives. It’s a bit of a love ballad to the south as well, but mostly it’s to the importance and power of having good women on your side.
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