We gave it a B+
The great-granddaughter of the founder of Phillips Petroleum plunders her family history in this uneven novel. Interwoven narratives tell the story of the heirs of patriarch Nelson Hanks (easily recognizable as the legendary Frank Phillips) who struggle to live in his oversize shadow. Joy Baby crackles in the sections devoted to Nelson’s rise to power in the oilfields of Oklahoma. But Ashour fails to sustain the magic in the sections portraying Nelson’s weak, bewildered son, Hubbell, and granddaughter, Laydelle, the ”joy baby” of the title. Of course the difficulty of measuring up to a man like Nelson Hanks is what this book is all about. Not even J.R. Ewing would stand a chance against this oilman.