A feisty middle-aged black woman sheds 70 pounds and rekindles the flame with her preacher husband.
Approaching her 25th college reunion, 220-pound Ada Howard decides to get out of her 3X sweats and work towards that stretchy size-10 black dress at Target. It’s not just that she wants to look good at the reunion for foxy old flame Matt Manson, who appends a handwritten message (“Honey Babe. It’s been too long.”) to the invitation. And it’s not just that her preacher husband, Lucius, might very well be cheating on her. (He’s lost weight, bought a new car and is never home.) Getting slim and healthy is a political issue for Ada. Her three older sisters died of diabetes before they turned 60, and every day at KidPlay, the day care center she runs in Nashville, she sees a parade of oversized African-American women feeding their children the same fattening junk food they eat themselves. So Ada embarks on a program of exercise and diet based on the list of 53 rules that opens this self-help manual delivered in a fictional format. For the most part, the rules are nothing you couldn’t find in an actual diet book—though probably not “Get better hair down there,” which forecasts the earthy humor with which Randall (Rebel Yell, 2009, etc.) in subsequent pages chronicles Ada’s journey toward size 10 and a revitalized marriage. When Ada visits the four congregants she suspects of being her husband’s bit on the side, instead of confessions, she hears a litany of the sexual tributes to his wife that Preach recited when invited to adultery. His highly improbable confidences are typical of the novel’s relentlessly positive tone; Randall’s emphasis on black pride and self-respect, while understandable, makes for predictable fiction. A quick aside about a betrayal by Ada’s best friend Delila strikes the only note of adult complexity in a book dedicated to simple cheerleading.
Well-intentioned and readable, but very broadly drawn and often gratingly rah-rah.