Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #76: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (Elmwood Springs #1) by Fannie Flagg

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Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes is one of my favorite books/movies. Her heroine, Iggy, makes you fall in love with her attitude and strength and just drives the whole narrative. In Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!, Flagg tries the same thing with Dena Nordstrom, a tough as nails television star with secret past. While she’s no Iggy, I found Dena’s story interesting enough to turn a few hundred pages, though I doubt I’ll remember much of it in six months.
Dena has fought her way to the top of network television by being tough but honest, a rareity in her business. But she drinks too much and can’t sleep at night, and eventually finds herself being forced to speak to a therapist and work out her problems. The real reason I kept reading this novel was to find out what actually happened to this girl as a child, and I will say that Flagg takes it in a direction that I NEVER would have guessed.
What’s annoying about this book are the folksy people back home In Elmwood Springs, Missouri who call Dena “Baby Girl” and say things like “crazy as a betsy bug”. Those people can grate after a while. But Dena’s character feels the same way throughout most of the novel, and by the end, as she mellows out, the reader is forced to as well.

Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #57: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg

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“I believe poor people are good people, except the ones that are mean . . .”

This is such a sweet story. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe hops around in history — from the 1920s to the mid eighties — as Ninny Threadgoode regales a stranger (Evelyn Couch, played by Kathy Bates in the movie) with stories about her hometown: Whistle Stop, Alabama. In Whistle Stop, Ninny’s sister-in-law Idgie and her friend/partner/lover Ruth (it’s never really made clear, but it’s kind of neat how little it seems to matter to anyone–even back then) run a little cafe where the two ladies feed blacks and whites alike, and never turn away a hungry patron.
Miserable housewife Evelyn becomes engrossed in Ninny’s story about these two strong women, along with the many colorful characters in their town. She finds strength in the tales of the hardships they faced, and the courage with which they faced them. It’s uplifting without being cheesy, and Evelyn’s transformation into a woman in her own right — not just a wife or mother — is fascinating to follow.
This book contains a lot of nitty gritty details about race and its impact on people. Obviously, Alabama in the 1920s was not a great time to be African American. Flagg approaches the subject boldly and with sincerity but no preachiness (unlike other novels, such as The Help). No one is trying to save anyone else — they’re just trying to get by and help when they can. She also shows us how poor people — black and white alike — suffered during the Great Depression and relied on their community for help.
I really liked this book, which was at turns funny and sweet and sad. I would definitely recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the movie adaptation (which I vaguely remember and would like to rewatch now!)