When Lilith Whitmore, the well-heeled House Corp President of Alpha Delta Beta, one of the premiere sororities on campus, appoints recent empty-nester Wilda to the Rush Advisory Board, Wilda can hardly believe her luck. What’s more, Lilith suggests their daughters, both incoming freshman, room together. What Wilda doesn’t know is that it’s all part of Lilith’s plan to ensure her own daughter receives an Alpha Delt bid—no matter what.
Cali Watkins possesses all the qualities sororities are looking for in a potential new member. She’s kind and intelligent, makes friends easily, even plans to someday run for governor. But her resume lacks a vital ingredient. Pedigree. Without family money Cali’s chances of sorority membership are already thin, but she has an even bigger problem. If anyone discovers the dark family secrets she’s hiding, she’ll be dropped from Rush in an instant.
For twenty-five years, Miss Pearl—as her “babies” like to call her—has been housekeeper and a second mother to the Alpha Delt girls, even though it reminds her of a painful part of her past she’ll never forget. When an opportunity for promotion arises, it seems a natural fit. But Lilith Whitmore slams her Prada heel down fast, crushing Miss Pearl’s hopes of a better future. When Wilda and the girls find out, they devise a plan destined to change Alpha Delta Beta—and maybe the entire Greek system—forever.
What it’s about: Miss Pearl has been working at the sorority of Alpha Delt at Ole Miss for the past 25 years as a housekeeper and virtual mother to the girls, but when she tells the new House Corp President Lilith Whitmore that she would like to apply for a new promotion in the house, Lilith has a lot to say about it… and you can bet it’s because Miss Pearl is black. Cali Watkins is a freshman at Ole Miss and wants nothing more than to join a sorority, but will her past and lack of a pedigree or family money mean she can’t? Wilda Woodcock has just been appointed to the Rush Advisory Board and her daughter Ellie is rooming with Lilith’s daughter Annie Laurie, but what lengths will Lilith go to for her daughter to get a Rush bid? And what will Wilda do about Lilith?
The story is told from multiple viewpoints which I really enjoyed overall. We get in the minds of Wilda, Miss Pearl and Cali; and the only time I didn’t like this was when certain things were described from 2 different character’s POVs. For instance, I could have done without the description of Ellie and Annie Laurie’s room from both Cali and Wilda. Everything else about it was great though and I liked seeing the world through each of these characters.
Patton uses a lot of description in Rush, and I felt like I could see the Ole Miss campus while reading it. I loved the setting of Oxford, Mississippi for this novel and learning all about the process of rush. I was never in a sorority myself so the process is nothing like I have ever heard of and it was so interesting to read about. I also fell in love with the majority of the characters in the novel. Lilith was the character you love to hate, but besides her and her daughter most of the characters were very sweet and very relatable. I especially loved Wilda and Miss Pearl, but this book is full of amazing characters with lots of depth.
The truly beautiful thing Patton does in this novel, is the way she takes the subject of racism and infuses love, hope and laughter into it while still treating it with the seriousness it needs. Rush says you CAN change your attitude and make a difference in the world. I cried tears of both happiness and sadness while reading it, but the overall feel of the story was very heartwarming and uplifting. Besides racism, it touches on all kinds of relationships and how people can change for the better.
Final Thought: I really did love this book, and would recommend it to people who are fans of Jodi Picoult for the topic, and lovers of Southern fiction for the style in which it was written. It is a fairly long book at over 400 pages if you read the author’s note, but it was well worth all those pages and they turn very quickly. Rush is set in 2016, but is still more than relevant to 2018 which is sad but true. This country has come a long way, but it still has a long way to go. The bright side is that there is hope and we can make changes to the world we live in if we come together and fight for what’s right.
MY RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 / 5
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me a finished copy of this book and an advance review copy via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.