REVIEW OF JAZZ BABY
In this story set in the deep South, Beem Weeks spins a tale full of drama, tragedy and despair.
Emily Ann Teegarten, around thirteen years old, has one best friend in life, her papa. With his sudden death at the age of 39, she is devastated. But then to be told that her mother murdered him only adds to the heaviness of death, grief and anger that no young teenager should have to experience. Now add her mother’s suicide to the immediate tragedies that befall this young girl and you have the beginning of Jazz Baby.
She has one bright spot, one positive that she clings to. She can sing. With a deep love and gift for singing jazz, Emily Ann reaches for the dream she’s longed for ever since she can remember. But, the road to that dream is littered with deceit, lies, murder and greed. How does a young girl cope with a brutal rape just as she’s finally getting to sing regularly in a Speakeasy across the river? But even more than that, how can she be expected to understand the greed, lust and lies she will encounter from those she thought trustworthy?
I was pulled along with Emily Ann as she moved from one tragedy to the next. I held my breath as she experimented with drugs, moonshine and girl sex. How was this going to end for the poverty stricken southern girl with a gift?
This novel is written in the style of Faulkner or Steinbeck, revealing torrid secrets that we all prefer to remain hidden. Touching on social issues that beg to remain in the shadows. Beem Weeks has done a great job weaving this tale. The southern dialect is written to perfection and I could see and hear the characters as they spoke. If you like a story that keeps you guessing and makes you gasp a few times, then you’ll like this story about Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten.