Title: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe
Author: Fannie Flagg
What's it about?
Duel time lines, two women, both strong in their own rights. Idgie Threadgood, born and raised in Alabaman in the 1920's and '30's is not your average little girl. She's strong, determined, rebellious and refused to conform to the gender norms. Then Ruth comes to stay with the Threadgoods, and she steals Idgie's heart, even if she's not sure she wants it, leaving Idgie heartsick when she leaves to go home to marry her fiancé.
Years later, Ruth decides to leave her unhappy marriage to start a new life with Idgie, her unborn son and the dinner they decide to buy. Their life is interesting and eventful, but non of it quite compares the time Idgie is tried for murder.
Evelyn Couch is a woman of the '80's. She's middle aged, her body is changing, her children are grown and her marriage is boring. Some days she feels like a stranger in her own body. The one bright spot in her life becomes the old, talkitive woman at the nursing home where her mother in law lives who happily tells Evelyn her life story and the story of Idgie Threadgood, her adopted sister, you could say. Soon, the two women become best friends who change each other's lives for the best.
Favorite Character: Idgie and Mrs. Threadgood. Idgie cracks me up an leaving me cheering. She is so strong and unmoving, a loving, loyal force eager to be herself and fight for what's right.
Mrs. Threadgood is sweet but there's a feircness below the service, I suspect. She looked up to Idgie, but I think there's more of Idgie in her then she sees. And I love how much she appreciates simple pleasures.
Least Favorite Character: Again, I have 2 picks for this. The most obvious is Frank Bennett. He's a poor excuse for a man.
The second is a small character who isn't there for very long. The lawyer at the trial. I get that we're talking 1960's in Alabama but there were so many things he said that made me want to slap him.
Favorite Part: The elephant. It may have been the least realistic part in the book, or at least among them, but I adored that part. It was sweet, funny and heart felt. It's one of the reasons I love Idgie so much.
This book has me feeling things. Honestly, it's kind of confusing to me. On the one hand, the "n" word is all over it along with the idea that black people are property, not people. Equality is not much of a thing in this book. It's riddled with racist slurs, insults, practices. Those parts upset and disgusted me.
On the other hand, as much as I hated the racist and sexist attitudes running ramped throughout the story, these were very much the attitudes of many southerns of the time and I know that we can't ignore the racism and sexism in our history, even if we don't like it. But...I just felt like there was a lot of it here.
But then there's Idgie. Idgie had no time for racism or sexism. She treated everyone who didn't give her a reason not to with respect, helped, provided and befriended anyone who asked for it or accepted it and she fought for anyone who was in need of it, as she saw the need. She fought for Ruth. She fought for Sipsy, Big George, the hobos, ect. And becuase of her kindness, she was a part in creating a community full of amazing people who supported and loved each other. And I loved that part.
I did love the story, though, it was hard to get over the racism throughout. The characters, such as Idgie, were rich and I was so excited to see LGBTQIA+ representation in a book copywrited in 1987 and taking place in even earlier times. I haven't come across such representation. And her refusal to ignore her authentic self and pass as straight only added to the reasons I loved Idgie. The communities' refusal to condemn Idgie and Ruth for being with the person they love made me love the book. It was handled so naturally without pointing fingers and with a respect for their family of three. It gave me hope in our current world where "different" is the worst thing you can be and it's seen, by so many, to be better to be straight, white, Christian, gender conforming, ect. then be anything else.
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to rate it highly and I might have, if it wasn't for the racism which knocks the rating of this book back more then one notch and I will be looking for other options that are similar for this book that maybe has less racism in it.
I give this book a
10 Fried Green tomatoes
But that's just me. Did you love it? Did you hate it? Did you have other qualms about this book that I didn't mention? Was there something you loved that I missed? Let us know in the comments.