Book Review – Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain

  • Son of a Gun – A Memoir
  • by Justin St. Germain
  • Publisher – Random House
  • Copyright 2013
  • 237 pages

Rating – 6/10


Review – On New Year’s Day I finished Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain, going from page 46 to the end. For the past week or so, I’ve been sniffling and hacking, so I had plenty of down time to read. I liked the book better than I had at first, but it’s still not a favorite of mine.

Son of a Gun is about St. Germain’s look into his mother’s 2001 murder at the hands of his stepfather. Justin retraces his mother’s life to the extent possible and tries to understand the meaning of her life and her death. The reader feels sympathy for St. Germain, anyone who has lost a relative can relate to the feelings of emptiness. For Justin, those feelings must have been far worse, given his mother’s violent, early death.

Search for Meaning

Justin wrestles with his mother’s mixed, confusing legacy, particularly her five unsuccessful marriages and her attempts to raise her two sons –

But what are the right choices? My mother married the first man she loved, had children, tried to make it work, to do what was expected. He left. AFter that she raised her kids. It cost her youth, most of her dreams. It meant that when we were gone she had nobody else, nothing to do, nowhere to go. Men took everything from her, finally her life. Now men blame her for dying (p. 122)

Reality – Too Much of a Good Thing

The problem with the book is that it’s a little too much like real life – a meandering ill-defined story. Justin learns that his mother and the people in her life were flawed, mixtures of good and bad, just like everyone else. At the end, the reader is left with no definite conclusions, or even with the idea that the story has reached any natural ending. Justin is left – as we all are after a loved one’s death – to move on, to try to remember the good times, and to make peace with what he cannot change.

I give St. Germain credit for taking an unflinching look into life’s dark corners. But, for me, spending time there with him was difficult and offered inconsistent payback.


About mobilemojoman

I have been a Mobile resident for about a decade. Working as a college professor keeps me off the streets and pays the bills. I am married to a woman (the MojoWoman) who is a much better person than I am and we have two beautiful girls who keep us both jumping. My interests are varied - food & drink, sports, politics, exercise, books, travel, Mardi Gras, and all of life's rich pageant. In the future, I'd like to learn more about sailing, photography, Cajun/Creole cooking, making beer and wine, and writing.
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