Son Of a Gun by Justin St. Germain

Son Of a Gun by Justin St. Germain
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Categories: Family Relationships, Memoir, Murder

About Justin St. Germain

Tombstone, Arizona, September 2001. Debbie St. Germain’s death, apparently at the hands of her fifth husband, is a passing curiosity. “A real-life old West murder mystery,” the local TV announcers intone, while barroom gossips snicker cruelly. But for her twenty-year-old son, Justin St. Germain, the tragedy marks the line that separates his world into before and after.
Distancing himself from the legendary town of his childhood, Justin makes another life a world away in San Francisco and achieves all the surface successes that would have filled his mother with pride. Yet years later he’s still sleeping with a loaded rifle under his bed. Ultimately, he is pulled back to the desert landscape of his childhood on a search to make sense of the unfathomable. What made his mother, a onetime army paratrooper, the type of woman who would stand up to any man except the men she was in love with? What led her to move from place to place, man to man, job to job, until finally she found herself in a desperate and deteriorating situation, living on an isolated patch of desert with an unstable ex-cop?
Justin’s journey takes him back to the ghost town of Wyatt Earp, to the trailers he and Debbie shared, to the string of stepfathers who were a constant, sometimes threatening presence in his life, to a harsh world on the margins full of men and women all struggling to define what family means. He decides to confront people from his past and delve into the police records in an attempt to make sense of his mother’s life and death. All the while he tries to be the type of man she would have wanted him to be.

My Thoughts:
When Justin set out to learn more about the murder of his mother I thought that it might be a bad idea. Don’t dredge up the past you poor soul, it will only be heartbreaking! On the other hand I completely understood why he wanted/needed to go on this journey. It was painful but necessary.

Debbie was married numerous times, often to abusive men. She moved around often, lived in a trailer, and went off the grid more than once. On the surface the explanation for her death seems simple. She was a woman who made bad decisions and came to a bad end. But that conclusion isn’t fair. Nothing is that simple.

The relationship between the author and his mother made for a compelling read. Also, the ties the author made between his own family tragedy in Tombstone, Arizona and the famous Gun Fight at the O.K. Corral added an interesting twist.

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29 thoughts on “Son Of a Gun by Justin St. Germain

  1. \”On the surface the explanation for her death seems simple. She was a woman who made bad decisions and came to a bad end.\”That was my first thought! I'm curious to see what the deeper reasons are though.


  2. Thanks for the review! I received a review copy of this ages ago and have yet to get to it. It seems like a pretty short read (though emotional) and I'm hoping to read it soon…


  3. I agree with you about worrying for him too. It sounds like it could have made for a depressing read! This is the second good review I've read though and I've been enjoying memoirs lately, so I might give it a try.


  4. I have read reviews but haven't gotten this book yet. With an interest in memoir, this certainly has an intense twist to it. Guess you've made up my mind — add it to the list! Thanks for a great review, Jen!


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