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When Love Calls, You Better Answer Paperback – June 13, 2006

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4 Stars and Up Feature: Kitchens of the Great Midwest
"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (June 13, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767916387
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767916387
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,852 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dana Y. Bowles VINE VOICE on June 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Despite her disappointing childhood, Bernita Brown has landed on her feet. With a completely disinterested birth mother, Bernita spends most of her childhood with her Aunt Babe--just barely out of childhood herself--whom she adores. Unfortunately, the feeling is not mutual, as her Aunt views her as an unwanted inconvenience. Desperately seeking love for herself, Bernita's Aunt drags the child along to witness the seemingly endless supply of men her Aunt Babe chooses to give herself to. So Bernita grows up in a house lacking love; and when she decides to go away to college to better herself, she is physically attacked by both her aunt and her mother. But Bernita goes anyway.

Years later, Bernita has launched a successful career in social work--managing a shelter for abused women. Her mother is still alive, but the two are not in contact. Aunt Babe, years later, has passed away...but remains ever regretful of how she treated her young niece. Aunt Babe is determined to help her niece find the loving man she needs and deserves. After witnessing Bernita become involved in a series of disappointing relationships, Aunt Babe realizes that she must reach out to her in a way that she was never able to while alive to help her find The One....and conspires with another man from The Other Side who is equally committed to finding love for the son he never knew while alive. And besides....the two of them are made for each other......

Often funny and sometimes sad, this is a tale that will make readers rethink the relationships that they have with their loved ones, and perhaps incite some to right a wrong....a great read.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chanel Messina on January 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was so thoughtful and inspiring. Anyone who reads it can surely learn something and take something away from this uplifting story. I especially liked the wisdom the narrator passes on, using old adages, sayings, common sense and astute observations about people and human nature. Some of my favorite passages:

"Life can either be like a car or a garbage truck, its up to you. you can take the car on a journey and learn something around every corner, or you can pick up trash at every stop. But you'll take on so much of everyone else's garbage til your own life starts to stink."

"Self esteem is for the self, but that aint where all of it comes from. It comes from the people around you. if you are around people who tell you that you're dirty, then that's how you'll feel. If they show you love, then you'll learn to feel loved."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.C. Wallington on June 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When Love Calls You Better Answer is one of the best books I read this year. Bertice Berry's writing reminds me a little of Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage. I say Ansa because of her use of a voice from the grave, and Cleage for the literary prose and the subject of women being empowered. Berry's combination of these two styles is what makes this book such an interesting reading experience.

Bernita Brown was born to Buster, who was not interested in being a mother; she only has this baby to prove to her sisters that she can get pregnant. Ultimately, Bernita is raised by her aunt Babe who hated her for no apparent reason other than the fact she was living. The hatred she felt from her aunt and mother and witnessing her aunt Babe search for love in the arms of multiple men, Bernita knew she wanted more for her life. It was a good thing that a teacher saw the potential in Bernita and arranged for her to go to college. Just like crabs dragging each other back, Buster and Babe beat and berate Bernita for choosing college. Once Bernita leaves the home, she never looks back. Fortunately, for Bernita, Babe is watching over her from heaven. Unable to reveal herself to Bernita, Babe watches as Bernita makes the wrong choice in her relationships with men such as Tyrone Phillip Thomas, Jimmymack, Re Member, and Rev. Evans (Van). It is apparent that listening is not Bernita's strong suit, because Babe is whispering advice to her from her heavenly watch. After a devastating exile from the Wellness Center, the church she gave her all for, Bernita is ready to change her life and Babe finally can reveal herself. Babe has set in motion for Bernita to find her true love, but when love calls, will she answer?

I really enjoyed this book.
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Format: Paperback
This storyline is so well written that it will captivate the reader from the very first word until the the very last sentence.

The story begins with Benita Brown, a social worker who puts every one's problems before her own, mainly because she has yet to discover her true self. Instead she lets other people define who she is or should be for their own benefit and not hers. Her first husband (Tyrone), who is in denial regarding his true sexual orientation. Then there was(Jimmymack) whose self esteem was so low he had to put Benita down to make himself feel good, (ReMember)the great white savior of Enlightenment, who wanted to take her back to her roots when he, himself was confused about his own identity. Benita went throughout the book falling into the clutches of people who did not have her best interests at heart. She ultimately runs into the Rev. Van and his wife Trisha who used the Lord to manipulate peoples lives for their own selfish prosperity and they hurt her to the point that she finally realizes that other people can not help you find you!

Her ghostly Aunt Babe who was the story teller; after she dies, she is suppose to be watching over her niece, Benita from heaven while she falls into all of these pitfalls. If she was watching over her niece Benita, she did not do a very good job, both while she was alive or deceased until the very end when she pushed fate into her nieces life. I think guilt from the negativity she helped cause in Benita life initially while growing up, caused her to finally help her niece through acts of fate to turn her life around so she could enjoy the positive aspects of life.
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