An old woman who can see the future worries for her grandson and an as-yet-unborn great-great-granddaughter—whom she connects with through their mutual gift—who are dealing with problems in their love lives.
The latest from Washington, D.C., resident Hickman (the author's Unexpected Interruptions won the Southeastern Virginia Arts Association's 2008 Literary Award for Best New African American Voice) concerns the 90-year-old widow of a sharecropper, Allene Small. Allene has lived a long, fulfilling life, helped along by a psychic gift, a deep faith in God and a connection to an ancestor who shared the gift and showed her how to use it to help the people she loves. This weekend, she will need to bring as much wisdom and guidance as possible to her grandson John as he navigates love and deception on a trip back from Manhattan to his small Southern hometown. Allene will also make a psychic connection for the first time with Alexandria, John’s yet-to-be-born granddaughter, who is just coming into the strength of her own gift in the future. Both John and Alexandria are in the midst of romances with the wrong people, and Allene must help them get on track with the people they were meant for, who will help them follow their dreams and fulfill their destinies. Hickman’s hook and story arc are interesting, with a number of plot twists and surprises. However, it takes a few chapters to understand who is who and what takes place when since the dual narratives progress simultaneously—John’s sometime in the 1970s, Alexandria’s in the present day—and aren’t quite clear at the start. Also, despite Hickman's attempts to explain some of the characters’ choices, readers may find many of them inconsistent or unrealistic. John’s visiting girlfriend, Madeline, is ludicrously villainous, and his would-be girlfriend, Elizabeth, is too virtuous, while his womanizing is somehow supposed to reflect his virility until he finds The One. At times, Alexandria seems either dishonest or wishy-washy. And we are never quite sure why Allene worries about the present when the future she sees indicates everything has already worked out.
A bold and intriguing effort that ultimately misses the mark, though some readers may enjoy the originality of the storyline.