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Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L Walsh

becoming bonnie
Becoming Bonnie
by Jenni L. Walsh
Book 1 in the Bonnie Series
ARC, e-Book, 304 pages
Forge Books
May 9, 2017
★★★★ ½☆
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Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received from publisher for review

From debut historical novelist Jenni L. Walsh, Becoming Bonnie is the untold story of how wholesome Bonnelyn Parker became half of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo!

The summer of 1927 might be the height of the Roaring Twenties, but Bonnelyn Parker is more likely to belt out a church hymn than sling drinks at an illicit juice joint. She’s a sharp girl with plans to overcome her family's poverty, provide for herself, and maybe someday marry her boyfriend, Roy Thornton. But when Roy springs a proposal on her and financial woes jeopardize her ambitions, Bonnelyn finds salvation in an unlikely place: Dallas's newest speakeasy, Doc’s.

Living the life of a moll at night, Bonnie remains a wholesome girl by day, engaged to Roy, attending school and working toward a steady future. When Roy discovers her secret life, and embraces it—perhaps too much, especially when it comes to booze and gambling—Bonnie tries to make the pieces fit. Maybe she can have it all: the American Dream, the husband, and the intoxicating allure of jazz music. What she doesn't know is that her life—like her country—is headed for a crash.

She’s about to meet Clyde Barrow.

Few details are known about Bonnie's life prior to meeting her infamous partner. In Becoming Bonnie, Jenni L. Walsh shows a young woman promised the American dream and given the Great Depression, and offers a compelling account of why she fell so hard for a convicted felon—and turned to crime herself.

This book had me right from the description (and the cover too). I’ve always been interested in Bonnie and Clyde and there have been a few television shows about the duo recently, but they never really explored the backstory, just focusing on the flashy bank robbing crime spree. Bonnie is such a fascinating character and it is a fascinating time in history too (which I hadn’t really thought about combined with the characters). I’m pleased to say that Walsh met my every expectation with her debut, Becoming Bonnie, and I’m even more thrilled to hear that there will be a sequel coming out hopefully next year that takes us into the crime spree time.

Walsh creates a fantastically believable Bonnelyn in her high school years. She has grown up tight on funds, but with a relatively happy life. She anticipates marrying the man that she has grown up alongside, Roy, and has big dreams of becoming a teacher with a real income. She is a “good girl” and someone that I could identify with, despite coming from different circumstances. Beset with family problems and the economy downturn that happens with the crash of Wall Street, Bonnelyn finds herself doing things that she never would have thought about doing before – bootlegging, interested in someone other than Roy, changing her thoughts about completing school. You can truly believe that the growing uncertainly in her family situation could lead her to make some of these choices, but she is also conflicted about her choices. You feel that inner struggle. The other characters here are fully fleshed too and equally as interesting as Bonnelyn (I won’t spoil how the name Bonnie comes about as it is sweet). Her best friend Blanche is a hoot! She makes up her own words (which I do a lot) and is always up for a good time and pushing at the rules a bit, however she is a good egg and really there when she is needed. Oh and Clyde! The author just keeps stringing the reader along awaiting when he will actually show up on the page – and it was a very appreciated tactic. I think I would have been less interested in him had he been present from the start and this just built the anticipation.

While Walsh brings her characters to vivid life, her settings are even more fantastically endowed. The speakeasies were pulsating with music, big personalities, and the air of constant anticipation of a bust. The depression of Cement City was palpable and in stark contrast to the bigger setting of Dallas. Walsh excelled at world creating in a place I have never been that made me feel as if I was there.

After a few slow or stalled books that I had read recently it was extremely refreshing to pick up Becoming Bonnie. I always wanted to read one more chapter or thought of all the little times that I could find to pick up the book and read further. Bonnie ends on a positive note and leaves the reader wanting to find out what happens when the crime spree begins!

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Jenni L. Walsh:

image coming soon
Being Bonnie
(Book 2)
Coming in 2018!!!

Find Jenni L. Walsh:
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Copyright © 2017 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Thanks for the review. New one for me.

    1. Highly recommend! It will likely make my list of top reads this year.


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