Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
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Good morning everyb—all right, okay. I know. I know. With an irresistible title like Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, the last thing you want to do is sit here and listen to me ramble through an entire paragraph of intro. You want to find out what this book is about! So I'm not going to spend any more time trying to—all right. Sheesh.
It’s the early 1970’s. The town of Ringgold, Georgia has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. Daughter of Ringgold’s Baptist preacher, Catherine Grace is quick-witted, more than a little stubborn, and dying to escape her small-town life.
Every Saturday afternoon, she sits at the Dairy Queen, eating Dilly Bars and plotting her getaway to Atlanta. And when, with the help of a family friend, the dream becomes a reality, she immediately packs her bags, leaving behind her family and the boy she loves to claim the life she’s always imagined. But before long, tragedy brings Catherine Grace back home and, as personal events alter her perspective—and change grips Ringgold—she begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began.
Let's give Susan a warm welcome!
She has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor and the Chattanooga News-Free Press. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is her debut novel. You're going to find Susan's witty style and fully realized characters as irresistible as her title, and you're going to wish the story didn't have to end. You may even shed a tear. I did. And I'm an insensitive bastard.
But don't take my word for it. Let Susan show you in her own words:
My daddy always said that if the good Lord can take the time to care for something as small as a baby sparrow nesting in a tree, then surely he could take the time to listen to a little girl in Ringgold, Georgia. So every night before I went to bed I got down on my knees and begged the Lord to find me a way out of this town. And every morning, I woke up in the same old place.
It was a place that I, Catherine Grace Cline, never wanted to call home, even though I was born and raised here. It was a place where everybody knew everything about you down to the color of underwear your mama bought you at the Dollar General Store. It was a place that just never felt right to me, like a sweater that fits too tight under your arms. It was a place where girls like me traded their dreams for a boy with a couple of acres of land and a wood-framed house with a new electric stove. It was a place I always planned on leaving.
When I was no more than nine years old, a tornado tore right close to my house. I remember yelling at my little sister to run and hide in the basement. “Martha Ann,” I warned her, “if that twister hits this town, nobody’s even going to notice it’s gone.”
She started crying for fear she was going to be swept up in the clouds and carried away; and nobody, not even our daddy, would be able to find her. Turned out the only thing of any importance swept up in the sky that day was Mr. Naylor’s old hound dog. People said that Buster Black flew some fifteen miles, those long floppy ears of his flapping like wings, before landing right in the middle of a cornfield over in the next county.
But that’s not nearly as amazing as what happened next. Five days later, that four-legged fool came limping back home, wagging his tail acting like he’d found the Promised Land. Mr. Naylor was crying, praising the Lord, holding Buster Black in his arms. The local newspaper ran a color picture of them both right on the front page, like that dog was some kind of prodigal son.
“You know, Martha Ann,” I told her after reading about Buster’s triumphant return, “a tornado like that just might be our ticket out of here, but unlike that stupid old hound dog, we are not going to limp back home.”
My daddy said I was a little girl with a big imagination. Maybe. Or maybe I was a patient girl with a big dream, a little girl waiting for her divine deliverance. But either way, I was going to hitch a ride out of Ringgold, whether it was on a fiery twister ripping a path through the Georgia sky or on a Greyhound bus rolling its way down Interstate Seventy-Five.
1. Mmmmm… Dairy Queen.
Sorry, that's not a question is it? Actually it is. What do you look for at the Dairy Queen?
2. Complete this sentence: Riding a Greyhound bus is more hazardous than riding a twister in the sky because _________.
3. If Buster Black the hound dog leaves the cornfield for Ringgold at 3:50PM traveling at an average speed of 4 mph, assuming clear skies and a daytime temperature of 87F, what's the weirdest thing he stops to smell along the way?