Twenty-eight-year-old accounts manager Cece Weathers has spent her life taking care of her sick mother after her father, a traumatized Vietnam vet, abandoned them before she was born.
Cece can’t remember a time before her mother, Carla Weathers,
“became too weak to carry anything but tears”—Cece's memories of her 1970s
childhood are shadowed by the gray weight of her mother’s depression, which
forced Cece to take on adult tasks such as laundry, groceries, and
cleaning. But when social worker Tanya Boylin entered the picture, Cece
excitedly began attending a school for gifted and talented students.
Unfortunately, Cece was the “only caramel face in the row of vanilla crème” and
was ostracized by her predominantly white classmates. She sought refuge in
books—reading “seventh grade chapter books” by fourth grade. It wasn't until
Carla’s state-ordered therapy sessions also ushered in piano lessons for Cece
as a form of day care that Cece made her first friend her own age, Pam. Cece’s
friendship with Pam and Rocky, her first crush, sustained her during four
traumatic years of high school bullying followed by the horrors of job
applications and workplace politics. And when another friend, Doris, an octogenarian
dying of cancer, gives Cece a house, Cece is faced with deciding if, for
the first time, she will be able to live apart from her co-dependent mother and
build a life of her own. Shifting between past and present, Kelly (Call It Forth: Poems, Stories &
Columns, 2014) deftly
weaves a narrative extending from Carla’s college days during the civil rights
movement through Cece’s girlhood and present adulthood. But it's Cece’s
vibrant, personable voice that carries us through the novel.
A multilayered exploration of the intricate nature of family ties in defining who we are—and how, ultimately, we can choose who we want to become.