Foreword Reviews

Dear DeeDee

An elliptical novel that integrates the death of a lineage into a reflection on personal mortality, Kat Meads’s Dear DeeDee recasts the unresolved stories of a Southern paternal line.

Rooted in North Carolina, the Meads family line is petering out. Its generations are scattered and its relationships are shattered. This incites a one-sided correspondence from Aunt K to her college-aged niece, DeeDee, in which she reworks the Meadses’ narrative and “pimps nostalgia as connection.”

Like a stone skipping across a pond, the book’s structure touches on depths without wholly revealing them. Aunt K writes from California and from middle age; her correspondence is structured into monthly sections. While she says she’s presenting herself and the past three generations too honestly for family comfort, there’s a sense of persistent withholding, of the “eye fixing on what it could bear.”

The narrative’s relaxed pace also creates a time-out-of-time that emphasizes the importance of story, both to Aunt K and to the Southern tradition she’s revisiting. A bibliophile who makes sense of nostalgia through books, Aunt K knows the value of a good yarn, especially one whose meanderings invite revelation, amusement, and audience participation, without any one element dominating.

At times, Aunt K is the perfect raconteur, passing along wisdom and bon mots to a beloved youngster; at others, she is unyielding about her nostalgia and hazy on specifics. But what the novel lacks in tension, it makes up for in its pitch-perfect encapsulation of late middle-aged reverie, particularly as it pertains to the troubles of family, fate, and “how difficult it seems for Southerners to relinquish investment in the controlling idea of it.”

As a reverie, Dear DeeDee is as carefully packed as an overnight suitcase, its final destination signaled as much by what’s left in as what’s left out.

Reviewed by Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The publisher of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the publisher for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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