Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Son of a Gun


Son of a Gun, the new memoir by Justin St. Germain, at first glance appears to be simply a son’s eulogy to his murdered mother.  But it is much more than that because of how St. Germain uses his mother’s story to reflect also upon the precarious blue collar struggle so many people face today, one in which one missed paycheck can throw an entire family into the kind of tailspin from which it might take years to recover – if they ever do manage the trick. 

Former Army paratrooper Debbie St. Germain was an extraordinary woman who met what some would say was a predictable end for a woman whose taste in men was always a little iffy.  When she was only 44, her fifth husband, a burned out ex-cop who saw himself as something of a modern day Wyatt Earp, murdered her.  That he and Debbie claimed nearby Tombstone, Arizona, as their hometown made it easier for her killer to maintain his deluded self-image.  Tombstone is, of course, the site of Earp’s infamous “Showdown at the O.K. Corral,” the short burst of gunfire that ensured his reputation as one of the fiercest gunfighters of his day.

Justin St. Germain
Debbie met her fate in September 2001, just days after the horrors of 9-11.  At the time, Justin was a 20-year-old student living with his brother in Tucson where the two were struggling to make ends meet.  Justin knew that he would never have been able to afford school without the financial sacrifices his hardworking mother gladly made on his behalf.  But that was the least of his concerns; now his mother was dead and he and his brother were stunned by the suddenness of it.  Despite their shock - especially since he was nowhere to be found after the murder – the boys were certain that Ray, husband number five, was responsible for taking their mother from them.

Some ten years later, the author felt ready to try to make sense of what happened to his mother.  He returned to Tombstone and began talking to people who knew his mother in ways a son can never know her.  He studied police case records in hope that he would learn more about Ray, the unbalanced loner with whom she was living on an isolated patch of ground on the day he ended her life.  Justin St. Germain learned much about his mother and her death that he did not know, including what hers and her killer’s final moments were probably like, but he already knew the most important thing about her: she did not leave him.  And he is determined to be the man she wanted him to be.

Bottom Line:  Son of a Gun is a touching memoir that takes a hard look at a gun culture whose victims are most often individuals very much like his mother, people struggling not so much to get ahead but simply to stay even.  This is their story.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)

No comments:

Post a Comment