UGLY WAYS by Tina McElroy Ansa


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 Three black sisters reunite in their Georgia hometown to embrace, scream, smoke, contemplate suicide, and swap clothes while preparing for their mother's funeral--in a rambling follow-up to Ansa's Baby of the Family (1989). Esther Lovejoy has died at last, and her three daughters- -Betty, the ultra-reliable owner of a pair of beauty salons; Emily, the lonely, unstable researcher who longs for love; and Annie Ruth, the pretty youngest whose job as an L.A. TV anchorwoman is driving her nuts--rush home to begin rehashing their traumatic childhood memories in the hope of laying them to rest. Ruled with an iron hand by Esther, who insisted they call her ``Mudear'' (baby talk for ``my dear''), the three Lovejoy girls learned the hard way to hold their heads high, work hard, and, whatever happened, never to trust a man--even while Mudear herself spent her days as a voluntary shut-in, watching TV, taking naps, and wearing negligees while her husband worked in the chalk mines to support her. Tormented by a mother whose belief that ``she was above the laws of God and man,'' to say nothing of her habit of gardening only by moonlight, caused tongues to wag all over town, the Lovejoy girls nevertheless grew up to forge successful, independent lives while their father faded into the background, muttering about ``womens taking over [his] house.'' As each daughter (and, occasionally, the shrill, judgmental ghost of Mudear herself) recollects those long- gone years, the source of Mudear's familial power is revealed, the daughters' lifelong resentments aired, and the father's suffering at last relieved, resulting in a happy funeral for one and all. A tale of dysfunction that opens with a bang--but repetitive, episodic, and, in the end, less illuminating than it might have been.

Pub Date: July 26th, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-192553-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1993


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