Secondly, I don't claim to be a professional book reviewer. I simply review books through my experience as the reader.
I had high hopes for this book. The cover looks is inviting giving the book a sense of innocence that one can find here in Mississippi. The title The Right Thing is also a reflection of the theme throughout the story. This is where my moral conviction influences my review. Annie is telling her story, vacillating from her childhood to present day. Throughout her childhood and present day adulthood, Annie finds herself with the daily struggle of doing "the right thing". Measured by the convictions in which I hold my own standards, there are only a few circumstances that I believe were actually the right thing to do. One being that Annie welcomes and befriends the little girl, Starr, who is the daughter of wandering preacher. Due to Starr's circumstances, she's always labeled the "white trash" of the community while Annie lives amongst the high socialites of the community. In the world of both classes, it's taboo for them to interact. But Annie does the right thing and befriends Starr seeing passed the social class taboos and in spite of the ridicule it brings her from family and friends. Annie also learns that sometimes choosing the right thing doesn't always result in the most rewarding consequences. Annie's desire to do the right thing is certainly honoring but some of her choices aren't morally right. This is what I don't like about the story. In a culture that embraces "the right thing" equates to whatever makes you happy, I can't truthfully enjoy or condone the way this author allows Annie to finally obtain the ultimate "right thing" for her life. Annie makes a conscience decision to do the right thing for herself because she feels she has always done the right thing for everyone else. The moral of the story, which is ultimately the ending, is that whatever makes us happy is the right thing and this is something I just can't support if it was the author's intent to justify Annie's choice in the end thus justifying such decisions made by all humans.
Now from a literary point of view. This is Amy's debut novel. I did not enjoy the writing as it's not well written. The book drowns in clichés. There are too many and many of them do not make sense to me. The analogies she uses to try to make the reader understand her statement didn't do the writing any favors. As for the character development, I don't think Du (Duane) Annie's husband's character is developed enough to warrant the ending of why Annie makes the choice she does.
When reading books, I try to resonate with something in the story. I did find one aspect of Annie's life that resonated with me. Living the socialite life because it's expected or because it's the class you were born into it doesn't guarantee happiness. In fact, it can result in a life of superficial friendships and constant acting. Annie comes to realize this as an adult. And while her desire to no longer live this type of lifestyle that isn't the problem, it's the solution she chooses to get out of it just isn't "the right thing".
For the sensitive reader: you will find strong language throughout the book. There are elements of infidelity, mild racial issues (part of the story takes place during the 60s), transgender, mild religious mockery.