In this debut memoir, a South Carolina native explores her coming of age in a beach town where generations of her family have both gotten rich and hit bottom while serving vacationers oblivious to the haunting histories of the region and local communities.
Jones grew up in a place famous for wide sandy beaches and an aggressive, fun-in-the-sun tourism industry ... That humid, brackish universe seeps through the pages of Low Country. A storyteller from a long line of Southern storytellers, Jones forgoes tidy narratives and traditional story arcs. Her childhood was way too chaotic for that. There is a swampiness to her telling of stories-within-stories that meander and recoil and circle back on themselves, holding the reader in her thrall through every zig and zag ... With childlike wonder, Jones pulls back the Spanish moss to reveal the swampy muck of her youth and blends it with tall tales, weather reports, history lessons, and family lore in captivating, lyrical prose that carries the reader along like a slow river water park ride on a lazy, sunny day.
Starting with the narrator’s account of seeing the ghost of a woman she once knew, we are pulled into the depths of a landscape made vivid through its densely layered stories. Jones takes this responsibility seriously, as she carefully uncovers detail after detail of her experience of South Carolina, providing a more dynamic sense of setting. In addition to gaining leeway by including the supernatural, Jones also takes liberties with embellishing the story ... Jones’ attention to language is what makes this memoir a stunning read ... At times amusing and other times heartbreaking, her care with language shines through in every page ... Jones provides a brilliant look into the cracks of a family, channeling the folktales and sayings from her ancestors, and bringing them to the page ... The trauma passed down through Jones’ line is fraught, but her storytelling conveys compassion to the characters that helped shape her life.
There is sharp prose ... There are also some clunky metaphors ... There are distracting asides to the reader ... And some phrases that are just confusing ... There are also phrases that hold the whole thing together ... I had little interest in stories of the hard-drinking, sometimes violent, often broke, outlaw country musician-father and much more interest in the women ... The violence that threads through these pages is brutal: physical and verbal abuse that would leave most of us shattered ... The matter-of-fact way Jones writes about hurricanes is some of the best regional writing in the book ... A difficult, sometimes meandering, but ultimately, powerful debut.