From Publishers Weekly
Motivational speaker Berry (Redemption Song
) packs a lot into a folksy, feel-good little novel narrated by a meddling ghost. Poor benighted Bernita Brown has been lured into the arms of several Mr. Wrongs—a boyfriend on the down low, a white New Age guru obsessed with his previous African lives, and a handsome married pastor. Her deceased Aunt Babe, who gabbily observes Bernita's travails from the afterlife, is big on name-dropping black artists and writers, big on self-help–influenced analysis and advice and big on a plan to hook Bernita up with a man who once yelled "good morning" to her from a delivery truck. Bernita ignored him, but Babe knows they're meant to be together. She speaks through every medium within her ghostly reach, including television, radio and a psychic friend of Bernita's, to guide her niece toward true love. Berry has used the ancestors for public service announcements before—her The Haunting of Hip Hop
features a group of undead elders who decry the negatives messages of rap—and this episodic story can feel similarly didactic. But Babe is a winning narrator, and the book's conclusion, in which love triumphs, long-lost family members are reunited and villains get their comeuppance, is sentimentally delightful.
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Long-dead Aunt Babe looks over her niece, Bernita Brown, a middle-aged social worker with a track record of failed relationships. From the perspective of the afterlife, Aunt Babe can see the mistaken paths of Bernita's life. Aunt Babe had virtually raised Bernita in a highly dysfunctional household of anger, bitterness, and violence. Repenting her own misspent life of sexual promiscuity, which she failed to keep Bernita from witnessing, Babe seizes her chance to make amends. Through tactful maneuvering of people and circumstances in Bernita's life, Babe guides her niece to a deeper understanding of herself. Babe watches Bernita stumble through a loveless marriage, a series of self-actualization groups, and a corrupt church--all with predatory males anxious to take advantage of her lack of self-esteem. Bernita is left distrustful of men and resigned to loneliness until Babe guides her toward true love. Fans of Berry will enjoy her latest novel portraying one woman's search for spirituality and love. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved