DeBerry and Grant had great success as co-authors of a first novel for both, Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made (1996), receiving (we’re told) 15,000 letters and e-mails as well as wide recognition in the African-American press. Their second effort will likely gain them an even greater audience. The melodramatic story, again turning on sisterhood but also on the theme of mothers and daughters, unlike the span of decades covered in their debut, tells of an unexpected trip South by two unalike African-American sisters, Celeste, the rigid wife of a doctor, and Ronnie, an actress with little success, both raised in the North, when they inherit from their father a strange house in Prosper, North Carolina. Nobody knew about this house, so what has Daddy been up to? This is the kind of unexpected trip “that turns your life upside down and barely leaves you time to pack,” the authors tell us in a “Dear Reader” letter.
Strong story but kitchen-sink prose: “Ronnie shifted her weight to the other hip and cocked her head to the side.” Where else do you shift your weight or cock your head?