Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain

son of a gun justin st. germain book review

Son of a Gun: A Memoir by Justin St. Germain
Publisher: Random House
Source: Publisher (via TLC Book Tours)

In September 2001, twenty year-old Justin St. Germain receives news that his mother has been shot and killed in her Tombstone, Arizona trailer. Though evidence and witnesses are scarce, it appears that Debbie St. Germain’s death came at the hands of her fifth husband, who quickly vanished, leaving behind Justin and his brother as the family’s remains.  

After relocating to San Francisco and starting a new life in the years following his mother’s murder, Justin soon realizes that he can’t simply wish away her death. He revisits Tombstone, where he recognizes that he knows more about Wyatt Earp and the tale that made the town famous than he does about his own mother. Working toward closure, St. Germain meets with men from his mother’s past and digs into case files, filling in pieces of the stories only half seen from the eyes of a child. 

“…sometimes I blame her, too – not Ray, but her – because she chose him in the first place. But what are the right choices? My mother married the first man she loved, had children, tried to make it work, to do what was expected. He left. After that she raised her kids. It cost her her youth, most of her dreams. It meant that when we were gone she had nobody else, nothing to do, nowhere to go. Men took everything from her, finally her life. Now men blame her for dying.” 

Filled with stark but powerful sentences, Son of a Gun is a memoir both haunting and captivating, tracing the journey from grief to acceptance with self-discovery in between.


  • Ellison

    I’ve been tempted by this one, Shannon, so will put it on the TBR pile(s). Memoirs are always hit and miss for me.

    • They can be for me, too. This one was much better written than many I’ve read recently and had a great, unconventional structure.

  • Ti Reed

    This does sound haunting. I had a childhood friend whose mother was murdered. We walked in on the aftermath. I was a little older (6) but knew enough to run away and take her with me. I never did see her again. The police separated us and my understanding is that her grandparents took her away. I always wondered about her. Your review makes me think of her, given the subject matter.

    • Wow, that would definitely be something that would stick with you, I would think, no matter how old you were.

  • Jennifer

    Wow, what a powerful excerpt… sounds like a very moving read. Hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for the author to delve into her past and reconcile his own feelings and memories with what he found.

  • Marie

    this sounds like an amazing, powerful read! I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him. so i should probably read this!

  • HeatherTLC

    I can’t imagine what Justin must have gone through in exploring both his mother’s death AND her life. Sound like this is a fascinating read.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  • Pingback: Pick It Up in Paperback: March 2014 - River City Reading()