This novel is the story of Pleasant Day, a girl growing up in Hollow Creek. Fifteen years old and pretty, she is starting to be noticed by the teenage boys in town, including Angus and Bodean. Pleasant's very close to her father, who she loves in spite of his imperfections (I thought less of him, because he cheats on his wife), and would like to feel closer to her mother, Martha, who seems to favor Sawyer, Pleasant's handsome, older brother. Pleasant has just learned that her one armed best friend, Millie Grady, has been killed, and that the girl's dead body was discovered in the box-spring mattress of her friend, John Peter Clottey. Pleasant is very distraught. She doesn't think that John Peter killed her; she thinks he's a gentle and sensitive boy, who wouldn't hurt a fly (or kill a frog without undue anguish), and desperately wants to talk to him to find out what happened.
"I wanted to see John Peter real bad, get the story straight from the horse's mouth about poor Millie Grady's dead body showing up in his box-spring. He'd never paid any attention to her. He wasn't one of those goons that made fun of her either."
~ Pleasant Day, Vera Jane Cook
Soon after receiving the news about Millie, Pleasant is riding her bike on a summer day when she crashes into sixty-year-old Clarissa Blackwell, not far from The Fine Fettle café in Hollow Creek. Clarissa notices Pleasant's strong resemblance to her goddaughter, Chloe, who had been killed many years earlier. Clarissa possesses some unique psychic abilities, and senses that this meeting is somehow meaningful. This is the beginning of a relationship between Pleasant and Clarissa, and a very absorbing novel.
Pleasant is a terrific protagonist. Smart, sensitive, and sassy, she cares about people, and she cares about knowing the truth. She's determined to find out what happened to her friend, Millie, the girl who was killed. In chapters headed by the names of the characters, the book is told in the first person by Pleasant, and also in the third person by Clarissa (there are a few other characters as well who are the focus of other chapters, toward the back of the book). Pleasant Day is full of dialogue between various characters, informal and believable dialogue which seems natural, written the way people really speak (it includes some cursing).
This book held my unwavering attention. It is charming, funny, and altogether fabulous. As I read Pleasant Day, I tried (unsuccessfully) to figure out who killed Millie (and there is another mystery that comes up as well). The book features flawed characters and "messy" relationships, and has many references to sex, and violence, including bullying and murder, so it's most appropriate for mature readers. Many of the characters are likable, including Pleasant and Clarissa, who share a love of literature. Initially somewhat wary of Clarissa, Pleasant becomes more fond of her after she learns that Clarissa is a retired English teacher; they play Jeopardy with literature as the subject (this will resonate with readers as well). Members of the Day family, Clarissa, the neighborhood boys, and other characters, are brought to life by the author's brilliant writing.
Pleasant Day is definitely a:
A very interesting, exciting, or suspenseful book, usually a novel.(From The Free Dictionary)
This was my first book by Vera Jane Cook, but it will not be my last.
Thanks to Teddy from Premier Virtual Author Book Tours for sending me a complimentary copy of Pleasant Day. For more reviews and giveaways, please visit the other stops on Vera Jane Cook's Pleasant Day book tour. Thanks for reading! Have you read any books by this author? I think I want to read The Story of Sassy Sweetwater next. Your comments are welcomed.