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First-timer Gould aims as high and wide as the Milky Way here, but, unfortunately, the strain of her effort is painfully apparent, and what is meant to be a tale informed by magical realism often falls flat. Willow, a young black woman orphaned as an adolescent when her parents’ car slipped into a ravine, is alone in the world but for her grandmother Lucille (who has “second sight”) and her Aunt True. When Willow’s heart is broken by a man, she decides to visit True, in Akron, but en route gets off the train at Good Sky, Ohio, to stretch her legs. It appears to be her destiny to stay in Good Sky; almost immediately she gets a job at Mrs. Faraday’s popcorn shop, meets Ruby, who works at the candy store and who becomes a surrogate mother of sorts, and May Belle, who will be both friend and mentor. Eventually, Willow starts working at the local library, where she can be with children, whom she loves. It’s there that she first encounters Clement, a mysterious neighbor who begins wooing her immediately with cards and flowers. Clement, however, is not human, although it’s hard to say exactly what he isóhis mother appears to be the creator of storms (tornadoes, lightning, and such), and there are allusions to his father as the creator of the universe. None of this does Willow discover until grandmother Lucille meets him and informs her that “He ain’t a natural person.” When Willow confronts Clement, he tries to explain, but neither she (nor the reader) is quite sure what he’s getting at. A perplexed Willow is destined to learn the hard way what it means to be targeted, affectionately or otherwise, by those from “beyond.” There are promising patches here, but, overall, Gould’s astrologically informed, moon-guided debut is more elusive than it need be. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18578-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998