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Book Name: Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel

Author: Susan Gregg Gilmore

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Overall Rating: (4.69/5) View all reviews (total 16 reviews)

"This is Susan Gregg Gilmore’s first novel, but her voice is similar to that of Fannie Flagg. Readers of Southern stories will enjoy the poignant self-discovery journey of this lovable heroine."—Tampa Tribune"Gilmore tells her tale with gentle humor and genuine regard for her characters."—Omaha World-Herald“If I had to make a comparison, I would compare Susan Gregg Gilmore to Fannie Flagg, but Gilmore more than holds her own. This is an unusually engaging novel by a very fine writer who knows exactly what she is doing.”—Lee Smith,author ofThe Last Girls“Susan Gregg Gilmore’s debut novel,Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, is storytelling at its best, entertaining and lively and full of surprises. Catherine Grace Cline, the endearing witty heroine, gives her domestic journey titles of Biblical proportion as she finds more than salvation along the way.”—Jill McCorkle, author ofCarolina MoonFrom the Hardcover edition.


Southern Fiction as Refreshing as Sweet Tea on a Hot Summer Day

by Antoinette Klein

The author has created in Catherine Grace Cline the best of Southern fiction told from the viewpoint of a young girl. Catherine Grace is a motherless child, the spunky daughter of a Baptist preacher who spends her entire childhood planning her escape from rural Ringgold, Georgia. She can't wait to turn 18 and begin her life in the Promised Land of Atlanta.The characters are vivid and real from her adoring sister Martha Ann to Gloria Jean Graves, the unflappable neighbor who becomes a surrogate mother for Catherine Grace, to Eddie Franklin, the Dairy Queen employee who can make chocolate dipped cones better than anyone and gets that perfect curlicue at the top every time.This is a tale of growing up in the South, a story of dilly bars and perfect red tomatoes, of first love and shopping for a prom dress, of impatiently waiting for the good Lord to answer your prayers just like you want Him to. But more importantly, it is the story of the ties that bind us to the people we love and what happens when those ties are cruelly broken, when we discover that people's actions can belie what they say in very hurtful and long-lasting ways. It is a story of love and redemption told with lots of humor that will have you teary-eyed one minute and laughing the next. But most of all, it is a story of hope and learning that, strange as it seems, a jar of homemade strawberry jam really can make all your dreams come true.


by Beverly

Coming of age in the south with all the characters one would expect. The attitudes expressed seemed true-to-life to me...I can see this happening in my hometown.

A One Sit Reading Book - We Could Not Put it Down!

by BookManBookWoman TV REVIEWS "Saralee Terry Woods"

"We loved this book by Susan Gregg Gilmore, and not just because she lives in Nashville! Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is funny, poignant and impossible to put down. Catherine Grace Cline is the daughter of a Baptist minister. Nothing is what is seems in her so called simple uncomplicated life in Ringgold, Georgia. If you liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd then you will love Gilmore's Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Just be sure to have soft serve ice cream available while reading this book!"

Twists and turns of life

by C Mauro

Every page, beautifully written, leads to surprising heartfelt events in a pure and vivid story. I look forward to more books written by this talented author.

There is a lot of heart in this book.

by C. Wong "Book worm"

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore is one of books that I would love to recommend to everyone but I am not sure they would enjoy it as much as I did. That is an odd statement, isn't it?The story is set in a tiny town of less than 2,000 residents, Ringgold, Georgia with one stoplight, one post office and a Dairy Queen. I once lived in a town with no stoplight, a tiny Post Office and a school.Catherine Grace Cline wants to see more of life than just Ringgold. Her father is the Baptist preacher and her mother died when she was old enough to have memories of her. She had one sister, Martha Ann who was too young to have memories of their mother. Catherine Grace's ideas about religion are different from her father's, she misses her mother a whole lot and she dearly wants to get out Ringgold.She does manage to leave, largely due to making wild strawberry jam, Gloria Jean's idea. Gloria Jean loves and cares for both of the girls in a way that would make any child happy. But then something happens and Catherine Grace has to go home. The whole world is suddenly turned upside down with secrets bursting out everywhere.There are sad parts (I was crying at three in the morning about them)and funny, witty and amazing parts.There are some trite parts like the part about getting the perfect swirl on the Dairy Queen chocolate dipped cone and what it is like to be a preacher's daughter. And yes, Catherine Grace does seem to be self-centered but that is out down by the great deal of heart in this book. A lot of this book is between the lines. If you read there, you will feel that it is a great book.I recommend this book to all who love witty writing and a great deal of heart.


by Cynthia K. Robertson

I purchased Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore simply because I liked the title. What an incredible novel and Gilmore’s first book lived up to my expectations in every way. I couldn’t read it fast enough.Catherine Grace Cline is the daughter of a minister in the small town of Ringgold, GA. Her sister, Margaret Ann, is two years younger and their mother died in an accident when Catherine Grace was only six years old. The preacher’s daughter tries to navigate the shoals of childhood, which are often difficult as she and her sister are living under a magnifying glass. But she has big dreams to remove herself from small-town life as soon as she turns 18. In a big city, she can get away from farming, low expectations, tomato plants, and gossip. Just when Catherine Grace thinks that God is finally hearing her prayers, something horrible happens that makes her reexamine her dreams and her priorities.There are also many lessons to be learned in this novel. You don’t have to attend church to live a Christian life with a loving heart. Your friends can be the family that you create for yourself. Sometimes the dreams that you set for yourself won’t bring you happiness. And sometimes you have to give up way too much to follow those dreams. Only you can determine if the sacrifice is worth it to you. The people who love you will sometimes fail you. And even those who we think are perfect are sinners in their own way. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is funny and sad, but always moving as we ache for Catherine Grace and the journey that she undergoes from childhood to adult. It is also very well written. Told in the first person, Catherine Grace is extremely perceptive—even when young. Catherine Grace’s father makes her dress up for church. “I really didn’t think Jesus cared what I wore to Cedar Grove Baptist Church, or to see the governor for that matter, considering the fact that in every picture I ever saw of the King of Kings, He was wearing sandals and bundled up in nothing more than a big, baggy robe.” When Reverend Cline starts pestering his daughter to “accept Jesus into my life as my Lord and Savior. I think I would have preferred he’d taken me shopping for my first bra than talked about something as personal as my salvation.” Also, “Daddy said you can see the devil in people’s eyes, but maybe the devil is nothing more than the sadness they carry around inside of them, bottled up so tight that it comes out as pure ugliness…” There is a lot of truth to that.Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen is a terrific break-out novel and I will definitely be looking for more books by Susan Gregg Gilmore.

A sweet story

by Danielle

This was a sweet story about a teenager trying to find her place in the world. Her mother died when she was young and her father is a preacher. They live in a tiny town and she is convinced that she needs to live in the big city when she gets out of high school. I loved the cuteness of the story and even cried at one point! It was a nice, easy read to pass the time!

profound historical regional tale

by Harriet Klausner

In the early 1970s in Ringgold, Georgia, teenager Catherine Grace Cline dreams of leaving town soon for Atlanta. The daughter of a widower Baptist preacher is bored with having no life outside of the church even with a caring boyfriend Hank. Catherine Grace's highlight each week is finding salvation at the local Dairy Queen one slow lick at a time to savor her Dilly Bar.After graduating from high school in 1972, finally with the help of family friend Mrs. Gloria Jean Graves, Catherine Grace takes the Greyhound up I-75 to Atlanta. In the beginning of her stay in the big city, she diligently writes letters to her younger sister Martha Ann who consistently replies; both girls miss each other as their mom died when Catherine Grace was six years old. However before she could really taste Atlanta, four succinct worded telegram from Martha Ann brings Catherine Grace home, but with a new perspective on life in a small town.A fully developed lead protagonist and a strong secondary cast especially daddy and Martha Ann turn LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN into a profound historical regional tale. The characters provide the audience deep insight into life in both a Georgia small town and Nixon era Atlanta. Anyone who understands what Dairy Queen has meant to the south or just wants to know will appreciate this engaging tale of young woman ready to take on the world, but while doing so learns simple truths about the flexibility of humans to seek dreams, but not fearing to modify or replace them.Harriet Klausner

Great summer read

by Humble Gal "Kay"

Small town girl. Pastor's daughter. Dreaming of better life in big city. Fast paced and will keep you reading until the end. Yes, I will read other books by Susan Gregg Gilmore.

Engaging and realistic coming of age story

by Joanna Mechlinski

For as long as she can remember, Catherine Grace Cline has dreamt of leaving her tiny Georgia hometown. She hates the way that everyone knows everyone else's business, the way that girls marry their high school boyfriends without even attempting to experience the world. Catherine Grace swears she's going to leave the minute she turns 18, and makes her younger sister Martha Ann promise to join her one day too.Sure enough, Catherine Grace gets on the Greyhound bus, the one she's watched countless times leaving from the parking lot by the Dairy Queen where she and Martha Ann sat and dreamed with countless ice cream bars over the years. Despite the almost tangible anguish of her widowed father and her beloved Martha Ann, as well as Gloria Jean, the neighbor who has been almost like a mother, Catherine Grace refuses to reconsider. Not even her adoring, seemingly perfect boyfriend Hank can persuade her to stay, as Catherine Grace hates Hank's complacency with staying in town and taking over his father's dairy farm.Before long, Catherine Grace is living a life she'd always dreamed of in Atlanta. Then tragedy strikes, and Catherine Grace must reconsider what she truly believes is important.Gilmore's debut novel is engaging, with realistic characters that readers are bound to identify with and care about.

Loved, loved, LOVED this novel!

by Joanne Long

This was such a neat coming-of-age novel giving us a glimpse of rural life for one young gal in Georgia. We learn the story of Catherine Grace who has grown up without her mother, knowing the world has so much more to offer than what is available in her stupid little town. She looks forward to the day she can leave Ringgold for good.This story had so many elements to it that I just loved. I found myself smiling or just plain laughing out loud plenty of times while I was reading it. I am sure many girls could read this book and easily put themselves in Catherine Grace's shoes, as I did. Many kids that have grown up in small towns can't wait to get out and explore the world. Personally, I felt the same exact way. But, like Catherine Grace, once you get out there and start living you realize that it isn't what it's cracked up to be.Catherine Grace has been lucky to have some wonderful people in her life. Even with the support of her Preacher father and motherly women to help her, there were still times she felt left out of events because she didn't have a mother of her own. She not only found kids treating her differently at times, but even adults. It's hard to grow up with confidence when you feel out of place most of the time.I loved the relationships in this novel. Between Catherine Grace, her sister, her father, and Gloria Jean, I absolutely loved all of the characters. With themes of love, family, and forgiveness I know that many of you would enjoy this book for either personal leisure or a book club discussion. Our book club loved it and I highly recommend this novel.

Thank God for Dilly Bars

by L. Phipps "book lover"

I hope Mrs. Gilmore writes another novel because she really made Katherine Grace come alive on the pages you read. Being the daughter of a preacher had its benefits and draw backs. Sunday dinners that Daddy made were pure comfort and it was that one thing the girls could count on. From the next door neighbor to each person you encounter you actually feel the characters. This is a sweet story and one you will not want to miss. I especially liked the way she talks about the Diary Queen and how going there was the best thing to do during the summer. Coming to appreciate the boy that works at Diary Queen really has a lot more talent the swirl he puts on the ice-cream. You will laugh, cry and smile. This is a sweet story and none of us is perfect and something about Katherine Grace makes it all well with the world. Just a little quick with the ending or I would have given this 5 stars easily.

Sweet Treat

by McGuffy Ann

Most teenagers want to be independent, to make their own way, and find their own place in the world. It's been that way since time began. In 1970s Georgia it was no different for Catherine Grace Cline.Catherine Grace and her sister Martha Ann were very young when their mother died. Their father, a Baptist minister, does his best to raise the girls. However, Catherine Grace feels a lot of pressure to "be good", and feels she often falls short. Being able to talk to their neighbor, Gloria Jean, who had been a friend of Catherine Grace's mother,is one thing that keeps Catherine Grace going. The other thing is hanging out at the Dairy Queen, plotting her future escape from their small town of Ringgold, Georgia.Upon graduation, and finally turning 18, Catherine Grace takes her life's savings, making her long anticipated escape to Atlanta. Settling into life there however, she receives news that draws her back home again. Once back home, to her own surprise, Catherine Grace finds that what she sought may have been right there at home all along. She finds that sometimes not only can you go home again, but in fact sometimes you should, because home really is where the heart is.


by mimi

Author hit a home run on her first try. This book was just an enjoyable read. I hesitated buying this and glad I decided to purchase it.I loved the story and the characters. It was real life with forgiving others and ourselves. We all make mistakes and book was about loving each other through it. It was a real life family story. Cannot wait to see what her next book will be like.

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

by Nelaine Sanchez "All About {n}"

Catherine Grace Cline wants to get the heck outta Dodge... or better said, the heck outta Ringgold, Georgia. There is just something about this town that just makes her restless - maybe it's that it's too quiet, or too small, or that it has a very small population - where everyone is your neighbor and they all know every little thing about your life. She and her sister spend every Saturday eating Dilly Bars at the Dairy Queen and plotting their big escape.Catherine Grace lives with her father, the town's Baptist Minister, as well as her younger sister. It's been tough living without her momma, who accidentally drowned when she was young. And although she still misses her mother and has always been haunted by her passing, she has luckily found a mother figure in her mother's best friend, Gloria Jean.Gloria Jean is an inspiration to Catherine Grace. For no one in town looks, dresses or acts like Gloria Jean - with her pretty nails, always done-up hair and fancy clothes. So when the chance arrives for Catherine Grace to move out of town and live in the big city, Atlanta - working in a department store and leading the life she has always dreamed about, she has no qualms with saying good-bye to her family, friends and boyfriend.But when tragedy strikes and Catherine Grace has to make her way back home - not just is she surprised when she realizes that nothing she believed was as she thought, but she will also question whether leaving her hometown was the best thing for her, or was she where she belonged from the start.Catherine Grace's voice is so unique and innocent that you become immediately immersed in her life and that of the citizens of Ringgold from the first sentence. As you read, you almost feel as if you are reading with a Southern drawl... it was really very endearing. Her voice is that of anyone who grew up in a small town - with hopes of seeing the great big world. Although the decision to leave everything and everyone you've known your whole life is a tough one, it is one that must be made.This was a very lovely story - with some fantastic characters and plenty of twists that will keep you interested and in the end leave you wanting more. This is a coming-of-age story that not only leaves you feeling hopeful but also with a big grin on your face. I loved it and can definitely recommend it.


by Queenie

As a Southern woman I found so much of this story and it's setting rang true. Amazing story of 2 preacher's kids without a Mama but with so much love.

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