This past month, I came across a first novel, “The Wisdom of Hair ,” by local author Kim Boykin. A former Fort Mill resident who resides in Charlotte, Boykin draws on her own experiences in her mother’s salon to create Zora Adams, a 19-year-old girl from the South Carolina mountains who leaves behind an alcoholic mother to pursue beauty school dreams on the coast.
While moving into her new apartment and enrolling at the Davenport School of Beauty, Adams learns of love, friendship and forgiveness.
When I began this book, I was enthralled. I think I read the first 100 pages in two days. I knew I would like the book when the popular, sassy stereotype was updated by 50 or 60 pounds. The lovely and large Sara Jane Farquhar is a refreshing update to the passively pretty best friend most novelists employ, and she was my favorite part of the novel by far.
The sexy, damaged widower, Winston Sawyer, is a little reminiscent of Christian Grey, or Mr. Darcy for those of you who pretended not to read “50 Shades,” but Zora’s “Mama” is certainly an original.
Certain characters are so bizarre that they stick to you, even when they’re a mere object for the development of the protagonist. Mama is drunk and nostalgic for her heroine, Judy Garland, whose prime her birth nearly missed, just as Mama herself seems to keep missing her chances – at motherhood, at love, and at letting go. With plenty of pathos and pitiful humor to go around, Mama presents one of the funniest hurt puppy characters I’ve read in a while.
Like I said, the first 100 pages of the novel were a breeze. I was waiting for Mama’s final performance, Sara Jane’s next one-liner, and let’s be honest ...Winston’s abs. However, I never reached the end I was expecting. This was one part disappointing because yes, the book was pink and girly and so I made assumptions on how the plot would resolve. This was two parts praiseworthy, though, because if I can predict the end of a book, the author probably shouldn’t have wasted her time writing it.
Boykin’s Faulkner-esque regionalism heightens the interest for born-and-raised Carolinian readers, but I would shoot so far as to say our numerous Northern imports would also enjoy this read. A little sentimental, a little raw, and a lot local, Boykin’s “The Wisdom of Hair” is a thoughtful but breezy poolside read – or fireside read, since the weather seems to think it’s still January.