DANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE ROOF by Sheila Williams

DANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE ROOF

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Ho-hum debut about a runaway mom who ends up in a rural diner.

Juanita Lewis, a 41-one-year-old African-American, has had it with her feckless offspring: son Rashawn is a drug dealer, other son Randy is in prison for aggravated assault, and daughter Bertie neglects her baby, Teishia. Juanita escapes by reading romances and dreaming of a better life for her family, but it seems like none of them ain’t never going to get out of the Columbus, Ohio, projects—until Juanita quits her nursing job, packs a bag, and hops a bus to get as far away from her troubles as possible. She decides to stop in a tiny Montana town called Paper Moon, where she spots a Help Wanted sign in the window of a diner, breezes into the kitchen, and pretty much takes over. The indignant owner, Jess Gardiner, calls in the seven-foot sheriff, who sizes up the situation and asks Juanita to rustle him up a real breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes, instead of that citified cuisine Jess has been serving. Her skill at down-home cooking wins everyone over in a Montana minute (about three weeks), including lesbian long-haul trucker Penelope Bradshaw, a.k.a. Peaches. Juanita confides her desire to write the story of her life, and Peaches is duly encouraging, introducing her to Millie, an eccentric old lady who rents out rooms in her rambling Victorian house. Millie’s named her numerous cats after her ex-husbands and talks to them all—a habit Juanita soon falls into. Well, there isn’t a hell of a lot else to do in Paper Moon, until strong and silent Jess starts romancing her in his quiet way. He’s nothing like the abusive and irresponsible men who fathered her three good-for-nothing children, and Juanita is ready for love, if not a commitment. Her brief taste of freedom has emboldened her, and the open road beckons. What’s next—California? Mexico?

Sitcom characters, lame jokes, weak plot.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-345-45930-X
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: One World/Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2002