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An only intermittently pleasurable second novel from Naylor (Revelations, 1979): the salt-of-the-earth story of an ironworker who sets up housekeeping with a 16-year-old girl. As the novel opens in rural Maryland in the early 70's, 32-year-old Foster Williams is hunkered down at work dripping a ""Wonderbread sandwich"" in a ""calloused hand"" and pondering what to do about April Ruth Bates, a local girl from a no-good, low-life family--mother dead, father a drunk, sluttish sisters not above a little play-for-pay. Some Christian busybodies have threatened to put her in a juvenile home (for her own good), and the solution seems to be for Foster to marry her. It makes no nevermind to April, so they set the date (""Well, lookee here! April Ruth must be fixin' to get herself hitched today""), but the J.P. is closed--so they return (not telling anyone) and simply set up housekeeping in Foster's grubby house, which is sliding ungraciously into shackhood. But life isn't all Cool Whip and Kentucky Fried Chicken--Foster can't seem to make April a baby, and he's so bashful he could rent out his tongue for knot-tying demonstrations. After one of her sleazy sisters runs over Foster's beloved dog Vinnie, April leaves, gets a job in a restaurant, and takes up with a salesman who gets her pregnant and vamooses. But she's still kinda sweet on Foster (just can't bring herself to tell him so) and as for Foster himself--well, that ol' Adani's apple just keeps a-bobbin' and a-bobbin'. When he does get up his courage (""April, I'm not putting this off no longer""), they're reunited--and Foster will raise April's unborn child as his own. All in all, a slow trudge down a long country lane.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Putnam