|I couldn’t help but be intrigued when I saw a book with this title in my latest batch of review books: Since You’re Leaving Anyway, Take Out the Trash. It’s the debut book of Dixie Cash, a writing team of two sisters. While I wanted to like the story for the title alone — which ends up being the title of a country music song the heroine’s mother writes — I wasn’t as intrigued by the rest of the story.
Debbie Sue Overstreet runs a beauty salon in Salt Lick, Texas. She pays a hefty mortgage, and between that and her other bills, she has a difficult time making ends meet. What she does have is a best friend, Edwina Perkins, and an ex-husband of three years, Buddy Overstreet. Buddy is also the sheriff in Salt Lick, and Debbie Sue sees him around town regularly.
Their encounters increase once a local woman disappears. Talk at the salon is that Pearl Ann Carruthers has left her husband. Soon everyone learns that Pearl Ann is, in fact, dead. She was murdered, and her husband offers a $50,000 reward for information about the killer.
The reward money leads Debbie Sue to investigate the murder. She creates a list of suspects and soon she and Edwina explore different possibilities. Their escapades bring Debbie Sue and Buddy into close proximity, despite the fact that Buddy is dating a schoolteacher at a neighboring town and Debbie Sue is seeing a wealthy cowboy.
From the beginning of the book, it’s clear that neither Debbie Sue nor Buddy has gotten over each other. They were married for five years, but the marriage broke up when Buddy told her that she had to choose between him and rodeoing and she chose the latter. Here’s Debbie Sue’s assessment: “The painful irony was that the divorce did force her to give up rodeoing, and she hadn’t even missed it. The only thing she missed was Buddy.”
Unfortunately, this says little about why their marriage didn’t work, why he wants her to stop rodeoing, or why it was such a problem for her to do so. This makes it difficult to understand why they divorced in the first place, let alone why they remained apart for three years.
The story alternates between Buddy and Debbie Sue’s point of view, with an occasional section from Edwina’s perspective. Reading their thoughts was often like listening to immature teenagers. I couldn’t keep up with the number of times Debbie Sue changes her mind. She’s going to tell Buddy how she feels about him. No, she won’t. But she wants him. And that schoolteacher is a slut.
Buddy’s behavior isn’t any better. He and the schoolteacher run into Debbie Sue and her date, Quint. After Debbie Sue and Quint imbibe too freely, Buddy helps them get back to Debbie Sue’s apartment, where he puts her to bed and puts Quint in the bathtub — after gluing Quint’s zipper closed. When the schoolteacher says of Debbie Sue: “She’s very juvenile for someone her age,” I nodded and thought that pretty much described everyone in the book.
The rest of the story continues much as it begins, with Debbie Sue and Edwina continuing their investigation while Buddy and Debbie Sue continue their mutual lusting. I never understood the reasons for their divorce or separation, so it was difficult to root for their reconciliation. Some conversations about what would be different this time around would have helped immensely, since they aren’t much different at the end of the book than they are at the beginning.
The writing in Since You’re Leaving Anyway, Take Out the Trash shows promise along with moments of humor; it’s definitely a comedy. But this lighthearted tale was ultimately light on character development and maturity. The next time you’re at the bookstore, I don’t recommend that you take out this book.