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Different Roads

By: Joyce Sterling Scarbrough
Reviewed by: Delores Jordan
Authors Ink Books, 2006
$18, Paperback

Joyce Sterling Scarbrough creates an atypical Southern character in her book Different Roads. The novel, set in Tampa, exposes the power of money in making or breaking a person’s life. Scarbrough takes us on a disturbing journey as the conflict of the book pits the rich against the poor.

Jaycee Stevens, the novel’s protagonist, captivates the reader because of her quick firing of insults and threats articulated with such aplomb that people let her get away with saying and doing anything. When one of the town’s well-to-do tries to denigrate her at a Little League game, Jaycee fires back, "Barb, why don’t we make a deal? You stay out of my face for the rest of the season and I won’t rearrange yours."

In Jaycee, Scarbrough creates the type of woman who would have no qualms in punching Barb in the face, or her husband, or any man. Jaycee is an intriguing character. She acts out on an impulse and has a hard time restraining herself even when she enters the world of the upper-class.

While in college, she met Bud Stanton, a rich boy, suffering the same feelings of abandonment. They are so much alike that they truly do understand each other, but they fight and often Jaycee lashes out at Bud. The only time she feels safe is when her husband holds her after one of her nightmares.

Scarbrough takes the reader for a thrill ride as Jaycee and Bud try hard to become a normal couple. The author weaves a web that catches the reader’s passion in discovering the secrets that cause Jaycee to be an oxymoron of strength and vulnerability. Scarbrough uses the couple’s lighthouse lamp as a symbol of Jaycee’s need to find her way back into the light. During one of their fights, Jaycee accidentally breaks it. Angry, she eventually does something she regrets.

The strength of Different Roads is Scarbrough’s understanding that Jaycee represents the best of all Southern women who vow, like Scarlet O’Hara, to never be weak and give in to another’s will. She is all of us at our bravest when we face adversity, a true hero.

Delores Jordan lives in Mobile and recently completed her first novel In and Out of Madness.

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