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Momma heads to Hollywood to track down her errant daughter.

A few years ago, Violet Kincaid vanished from Devine, Texas, population 894, leaving behind a befuddled husband and two helpless babies. Violet’s mom, Ruby, is left to pick up after her daughter’s mess. Ruby takes in Violet’s children, Bubbie and Bunny, and does her best to instill some normalcy into the kid’s lives, but these two urchins are a handful. As the sole proprietress of Devine Bowl, Ruby wasn’t planning to raise children again. As it is, she can barely find time to follow her beloved soap opera. A commercial during the aforementioned soap floors Ruby and her bowling pals—Violet has become a television model. The local hens decide to round up a posse and head to Hollywood in order to reunite Violet with her family. Since Imogene, Violet’s irritating mother-in-law, is the only one in town with a Winnebago and enough money to fund the trip, she serves as the organizer. Ruby’s sister, the oversexed Loralva, is recruited as the driver. This is Loralva’s shot to get on the famous television game show, The Price is Right. Ruby decides to bring the kids along, which turns the Winnebago into a virtual torture chamber. That’s where the MoonPies come in handy; the only way to get Bunny and Bubbie to behave is by bribing them with the sweet and sticky treat. (It’s a bad sign when an item of packaged food is assigned a leading role in a novel.) Once in Hollywood, Ruby keeps coming up against dead ends. She nearly gives up before a trail of MoonPies leads her to Violet. Wallen writes knowingly about big hair and small minds, but she can’t conjure up the magic necessary to bring the road trip to life. The reader wants no part of climbing aboard this particular Winnebago and suffering through Imogene’s endless griping, Bunny’s snot-nosed whining or Bubbie’s gory hijinks. It’s all too clear why Violet left Devine and never looked back.

Literary roadkill.

Pub Date: Jan. 2nd, 2007
ISBN: 0-670-03817-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2006