A sweet tale with attitude about a savvy businesswoman, and a sucker for all things African, who wryly recounts the lessons she learned about life and herself when she and her husband come to the rescue of a beautiful girl from Africa. Zena, christened Zenobia, raised in the projects and married to Lucius, has always been able to keep busy and take care of herself. She's the owner of Zena's Curly Girl, a popular beauty salon, where, she says, since —women want above all to be beautiful I really have my work cut out for me.— Her narrative is complemented by that of her friend and co-worker Vyester, who tries to protect Zena. Now in her 40s, Zena loves all things African'she has filled her shop and home with African objects'so it seems only natural that she and Lucius offer temporary housing to Ifa, a 20-year-old West African who needs a visa. Ifa calls her Mum, and the childless Zena is thrilled to have an —adopted— daughter. She happily buys her expensive clothes and indulges her whims, but Vyester, whose experiences with Africans have made her resent them (they take jobs away from Americans), is skeptical. Soon even Zena resents Ifa, who, claiming to be royalty, won—t help around the house, fills her room with snake fetishes, and has designs on Lucius, who seems bewitched. With Vyester's help, Zena gets Ifa to move out. But Ifa doesn—t surrender easily'she seduces Lucius. Although Zena forgives a repentant Lucius, what really hurts, she admits, was being in love with Africa and the idea of having an African daughter, then being deceived. Zena is all heart, though—as Ifa will discover at story's end. Zena is an original: sassy, opinionated, and big enough to admit she's wrong. Once again, Lattany (Kinfolks, 1996, etc.) dishes wisdom along with a lot of humor and offers fresh insights into the ever-contrary ways of the heart.
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