McCarty’s The Jewel Box is an interesting cross between irreverent romp and heartfelt women’s fiction that manages to combine laughter and gritty realism, often on the same page. I found myself laughing out loud (literally – people stared) in the first couple of pages and on the whole, enjoyed the book very much.
On the downside, the book makes the classic first person error of having only one fully fleshed character – the narrator. Towards the middle of the book I got a bit frustrated with main character Cherie’s apparent lack of growth and the flatness of other characters, such as Nikki, her daughter, whom I would really like to have known more about.
I was never tempted to stop reading, though, because the writing style is engaging and the plot line entertaining. McCarty brings us a tale most of us can relate to, regardless of the decade we were born in. Too real for a genre romance, the book takes you on one woman’s journey from the wild sixties into the modern era. In a number of ways, the plot twists reminded me of Forest Gump (the movie – I never read the book). Though Cherie does not appear to be mentally challenged, she does make her share of iconic errors. Some are funny enough to make you snort, others will make you sad, but all of them will have you identifying with a protagonist you quickly come to feel you have met, and liked, somewhere along your own journey.
Eighteen-year-old Jill moves to the urban sprawl of Houston (that’s Texas y’all) looking for big city excitement and adventure, but one mistake dominos into another and fate finds this small town girl struggling to salvage her dignity. Married, divorced, and toting a toddler on her hip before she turned twenty-two, 1969 finds Jill taking on the alias “Cherie” and taking up waitressing in a place that lacked endorsement of religious organizations. Infused with authentic, messy people who live life out loud, this three decade long emotional journey uses humor as a crutch for those dealing with heartache, healing and restoration.
C. Michelle McCarty is a native Texan born with a love of writing, but forced to take jobs that actually paid for necessities along the way. Having done everything from owning her own hair salon and employment agency to writing ad copy, and editing for an online newspaper, Michelle retired in 2012 to settle into writing full time.