Continuing rags-to-riches saga of Annette Goode Davis, her best friend Rhoda and the exasperating men, parents and children in their lives.
In this fifth of Monroe’s God series (God Ain’t Blind, 2009, etc.), Annette, 47, appears to have finally surmounted her destitute and traumatized childhood. She’s a successful collection agent, happily married to childhood sweetheart Pee Wee, the most prosperous black barber in Richland, Ohio. Their 11-year-old daughter Charlotte is well behaved and popular, even if she prefers pizza to collard greens. Annette is still surrounded by the wacky supporting cast Monroe introduced in the first book (God Don’t Like Ugly, 2000). Her mother, the now-elderly Muh’Dear, has reunited with Annette’s father, whose desertion of the family (in Ugly) for a white woman led to his family’s impoverishment and subsequent troubles. Scary Mary, the semi-retired madam who sheltered and occasionally employed Annette and Muh’Dear during their lean times, is still Richland’s go-to rumor-monger. But Annette ignores Mary’s hints that stalwart Pee Wee is planning to abscond with his new light-skinned manicurist, Little Leg Lizzie (so named because of her withered leg, the result of polio). Irony of ironies, Annette herself had suggested hiring Lizzie, to give Pee Wee an edge over a rival upstart barbershop, and to help Lizzie overcome her shyness. At Annette’s suggestion, Lizzie has a makeover, and the newly glam nail stylist soon has the barbershop clientele—and proprietor—wrapped around her cuticle trimmer. When Pee Wee leaves, Annette retaliates by taking up with former fling Jacob, but he turns out to be an abusive deadbeat. Meanwhile, Rhoda’s spoiled diva daughter Jade has returned from yet another out-of-state husband hunt with latest conquest Vernie, whom she doesn’t hesitate to batter when he’s too slow to obey her commands. Much back story from previous installments unduly burdens this narrative, despite the pleasure of watching Annette and Rhoda soldier on, wisecracks at the ready.
May prompt catch-up reading among the uninitiated.