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(from Goodreads) A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it’s there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Jenny, Mosey’s strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women’s shared past–and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.

Okay, here’s what I knew before I started reading A Grown Up Kind of Pretty-three generations of Southern women, secrets from the past, beautiful cover. For some reason I got in my head this was going to be a quirky, perhaps light-hearted story. This was so not what this story was, and it was so much better than I expected.

The three generations of Slocumb women worry about what will happen every 15 years. Ginny or Big got pregnant with Liza at 15, Liza got pregnant at 15, so they both are keeping a close eye on Mosey as she nears her 15th year.  That doesn’t stop their world from being turned upside down. And they each struggle to keep their world together.

I really loved each of the Slocumb women. I appreciated Big wasn’t made into a model parent at age 15, sadly Liza suffered and struggled and, of course, became a teen parent herself. Liza is not a perfect parent ether but is really shown as becoming the better parent before being tragedy hit. But what I appreciated the most in this story was Mosey. So often teenagers are wise beyond their years able to put their thoughts and feeling into poetic terms. That wasn’t our Mosey, she was wise and grown up in the way many girls raised in unconventional circumstance are without being precocious. Along with her friends she seemed to be a real kid.

I don’t have much real world experience with what happens when someone has a stroke but the way Jackson wrote Liza and had Liza try to find her way out and still deal with her past just rang so true. It was so moving and honest. I couldn’t help but root and hope for the best for all the Slocumb women.

Where has Joshilyn Jackson been all my life? How did I miss her books? I’m fixing that already. I have Backseat Saints sitting on my shelf and I can’t wait to get to it. And I think I’m off right now to order the rest of her library. Oh, and I just have to say again-the cover is just beautiful.