It’s 1990 and small town life is harsh in Quinn, Montana. It’s especially harsh for Rachel, a recovering alcoholic, who’s back in town to seek absolution for the countless transgressions she racked up during her turbulent teen years. Her own mother won’t speak to her, and the locals avert their gaze when she walks by. Of course, they’d hate to get on Laverna’s bad side. As owner of The Dirty Shame, Quinn’s only bar, Rachel’s brazen mother Laverna, wields her power over the town’s tap fiercely- and she’s not exactly known for her compassion. And then there’s Jake. For a twelve year old boy with an eye for vintage fashion, a fondness for Jackie Collins novels, bully dilemmas and a mother with horrendous taste in men, life in Quinn can be downright painful. As Jake and Rachel both struggle to find their place despite situations as bleak as the local landscape, they manage to find strength with each other. Their human pursuit of love and belonging propel them both onto an unlikely place for redemption and acceptance- the softball field.
The Flood Girls was the selection for our July book talk at the Osage Branch of Missouri River Regional Library. Reviews of the book promised laughter and we hoped it would be a fun read. The novel did not end up being an especially favorite choice and some book talk participants found it a bit more dreary than amusing. However, the character analysis and small-town scenarios made for a great discussion. Fifield balances a few miserably loathsome characters with a host of endearing ones that add much needed warmth and light to the gloom that is Quinn, Montana. We were also intrigued to learn more about the author. From Fifield’s bio and interviews, we know his debut novel is close to home and that the character, Jake, is loosely based on his own experiences. As I read The Flood Girls, it played out in my mind a bit like A League of Their Own meets Shameless meets Northern Exposure. The novel definitely screwed a darker lens on humor, but I found found the author’s offbeat mix of wacky and morose curiously entertaining and worth recommending - especially for fans of The Family Fang or Rabbit Cake.